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Research Data Management (RDM): Existing Data

One stop shop for all things related to Research Data and how to manage your data throughout its entire lifecycle

Reusing Existing Data

If you consider using secondary data in your research, it will also need to be outlined in your Data Management Plan.

Secondary data are intellectual property belonging to another party, so they may only be used with that party's permission and subject to any terms specified by the provider. 

You will also need to consider issues of data management, as you would for primary data, such as: 

  • where the data will be stored
  • how they will be kept secure, particularly if they contain confidential or sensitive information
  • how the data will be processed or transformed in any way as part of the research


It is recommended that as part of your data management planning you:

  • list the key data sources you will use in your research
  • provide full references by DOI or other persistent identifiers where possible
  • For each data source, record the terms of use, and whether the data will be consulted only or will be incorporated into data outputs intended for distribution in support of project findings

Why reuse existing data

For example, because it:

  •  It avoids unnecessary duplication of efforts to generate research data
  •  Allows you to integrate data from different studies, sites, labs, disciplines etc., and thus to open up important new avenues of research
  • Eases the burden on over-researched populations

How to find existing research data?

Finding research data can prove challenging given the amount of data that is currently available and the diversity of possible data sources and formats.

Research data that are shared following the FAIR principles (with a persistent identifier and rich metadata online in a searchable resource) are more easily findable than data published on personal websites or data included as supplementary material to a journal article.

Places, where you can look for data, include:


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