What is research data management



What is research data management
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Research data management (RDM) includes all measures taken to ensure that data is and remains usable. For this to be successful and sustainable, data management must be established as an integral part of the research processes and form a part of scholars’ routines so they can actively and consciously shape the lifecycle of their research data.

In this toolbox, you will find a series of posts about the management of research data, including topics such as:

  1. A checklist for a data management plan (DMP)
  2. Information on the difference between data storage and digital preservation
  3. An introduction to the DMP online tool
  4. A short quiz to determine the RDM effort of your research project (in German)
  5. Reasons why it is beneficial to share data
  6. Information on data protection


Creating a data management plan may look like a time-consuming additional effort at first glance, but offers many benefits:

  • Certain funding sources (such as the ERC’s Horizon2020) are only available to projects with a data management plan.
  • Possible further funding conditions for dealing with research data may also be covered by a professional data management plan.
  • It is possible to avoid duplicate work (such as getting re-acquainted with the data) through good data management and documentation.
  • The data is already in a usable format should it be requested as part of a peer review process.
  • Professionally standardized data management processes reduce the future effort for own or external reuse of the data.
  • The risk of data loss is minimized by data management measures such as documentation, data backup and digital preservation.


Protecting confidential information in repositories

When research involves the collection of personal information, researchers are expected to adhere to ethical standards as recommended by professional bodies and funding organizations, both during research and when storing or sharing data.

By using data centers or repositories, it is possible to restrict access to confidential and sensitive data while at the same time enabling data sharing for research purposes. The data held in repositories and archives is not generally publicly available. Users register and sign an end-user license in which they agree to certain terms, such as: non-commercial use or the protection of personal information. The author can determine in advance which type of data access is permissible.

Archives and repositories can impose additional access rules for confidential data. These include:

  • The need for a special permission from the author for access to the data.
  • The use of an embargo period for confidential data.
  • To allow access for registered researchers only.
  • To provide secure data access that can only be used to remotely analyze sensitive data, but that does not allow the downloading of data.


Adapted from and FDMentor at the Humboldt University of Berlin.