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Research Data Management Guide: Data Storage

This guide aims to provide information and resources to support best practice in managing research data at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

Storage considerations

Storage and backup of research data is an essential component of data management to avoid loss or corruption of data through out the research.  The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research outlines the responsibilities of institutions and researchers for the management of Data and Information in Research. For example, researchers must:

  • Ensure that research data and primary materials are kept in safe and secure storage, even when not in use 
  • Retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research data and primary materials
  • Retain and be able to produce on request all relevant approvals, authorisations and other administrative documents, such as ethics and financial approvals, receipts and consent forms
  • Stable storage formats and regular backup to a source external to an individual computer
  • Version control and other relevant mechanisms for datasets, algorithms, models and software configuration management

When determining data storage, you should consider questions such as:

  • What are the data formats being used?
  • Could the data format be readily migrated to another format?
  • What is the anticipated volume of data to be collected or generated?
  • When and where will you need to access the data?
  • Who else will need access to the data?
  • How will the storage location meet privacy and security requirements?
  • Is the storage medium suitable for long term storage (data archiving)?

Other storage options

Other storage options include:

  • Research data repositories - refer to the 'finding data' tab for assistance in locating research data repositories which you might have the option of contributing your data to for long term storage and preservation (with a likely emphasis on data sharing and reuse).
  • Cloud data storage services - these services are becoming increasingly available; however there are issues of concern relating to security, reliability and data ownership. In relation to data ownership, a service may advertise as being in a specific country but the reality is that data may be stored anywhere in the world which creates the problem of data ownership and privacy laws and protection in those countries. If you are considering using these services, each needs to be considered carefully, and the End User License Agreement read and understood.

It is worth reiterating here how critical it is to have a backup strategy. This will allow you to recover data after loss and/or to recover data from a particular time.  Backups of more than one copy should be performed regularly, and they should be housed remotely from the main data storage. The backups should be labelled and well organised to facilitate any data restoration process.

Charles Darwin University storage options

Charles Darwin University's Research WebPortal serves as an institutional repository for the long term preservation, management and appropriate sharing of research outputs, including medium to small sized datasets (no more than 2GB). Researchers can upload descriptions of their data and related data files through the Self Submission Portal. Data files can be assigned an embargo period or made available only by mediated access in cases where open access is not appropriate. These metadata records and attached files are stored in the CDU Research Webportal DATASETS  collection. 

Charles Darwin University provides personal file storage spaces on the network such as:

OneDrive for Business is your own private and secure storage area to store your files and documents in the cloud for Staff and Students. The quota for everyone at CDU is 5TB of data.

AARNET's CloudStore service, a free storage for University staff and researchers and available through CDU portal. 

CDU SharePoint, you can also contact ITMS to setup trusted cloud storage DR/ Backup/ Versioned.

It is strongly recommended that for University related data storage, CDU supplied data storage services and servers are used. The CDU Information Security Policy strongly advises users save work to network drives and discourages the use of email facilities for permanent storage.  Talk to your Supervisor or College Dean about specific research storage requirements.

Related resources

Charles Darwin University acknowledges the traditional custodians across the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders both past and present.
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