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Research Data Management

Learn about best practices in research data management

What is Preservation?

Preservation focuses on making sure that your data will be available for you for a long period of time, and available in the same way that you used it when it was collected. This is important not only for yourself in looking back on your previous research, but also going forward as collaborators or other researchers may want to see your data. Preservation will be of increasing importance as more and more data management and sharing requirements emerge from funders and publishers.

Remember: storage does not equal preservation!!



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Best Practices for Preservation

Share "like with like" when sharing your data. Find a repository in your discipline or for similar types of data. This enhances discoverability, reproducibility, and helps you comply with funder requirements for data sharing. 

Your funding requirements may specify a particular repository or other place to store your data long-term. Be sure to check this information before placing your data in a long-term repository. 

Familiarize yourself with the types of repositories in your discipline and what types of data they store. 

Think about what repository you may want to use at the beginning of planning your research while writing your Data Management Plan. Thinking about and organizing your data in this way will make it easier to transfer to a repository later. 

Familiarize yourself with the types of repositories in your discipline and what types of data they store

Trusted Open Formats for Preserving Data

Best practices for preservation is to save your data on preservation formats. These four formats are the gold standard for making sure your data will be available for long term, as they can be opened and viewed on any operating system using any kind of software. They are:

  • XML: Extensible markup language -- this is used to ensure simplicity, generability and usability across the internet and can be used to save documents or web service content
  • CSV: Comma separated values -- this is an ideal way to save spreadsheets in a preservation format. Excel, Google Docs and any other spreadsheets can open CSV files
  • PDF: Ideal for saving documents in perpetuity. Note that PDFs are not easily editable, and should be used to freeze a document in time that will not be changed
  • TIFF: Tagged image file format -- the gold standard for saving image files. TIFF’s a preservation ready, and will ensure the quality of images over time.

Types of Repositories

If you put data in a repository, there are generally three types to consider. Many institutions have an institutional repository to store data created by the institution’s researchers. There are a large number of disciplines that have established a repository to hold data within a specific subject domain. And there are also cross-disciplinary repositories which hold data from across many disciplines.

An institutional repository is an archive for collecting, preserving, and disseminating digital copies of the intellectual output of an institution, particularly a research institution.

A cross-disciplinary repository contains research from many different disciplines and is a general place to find research data and materials. 

A discipline-specific repository contains research data from a specific discipline such as biology, physics, chemistry, etc. There are even more specific sub-disciplinary repositories as well. If you are look

See the resources below for finding an appropriate repository for your research. 



General repositories

Repositories by Discipline

If you are looking for a repository about your specific type of research, here are some resources for locating them. Several places have alredu compiled lists of resources, so we are linking to those here rather than recreating them. 

Sharing your data with researchers who work in the same area as you do will increase the chances of others finding useful data for their research and promotes a community atmosphere.