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Research Data Management

This guide offers guidance and resources for managing research data in any discipline.

Storage Tips and Guidelines

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(Adapted from Figure 1 in Elvira-García, Wendy & Farrús, Mireia & Garrido, Juan-María. (2023). Comparison of intensity-based methods for automatic speech rate computation. Loquens. 9. e090. 10.3989/loquens.2022.e090 with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.)

Data Storage and Backup are key to your research data management strategy. When deciding how and where to store your data, consider security, data sensitivity, backup processes, collaboration (internal or external), and storage capacity.

Store research data securely. Use a strong password for accessing websites, email accounts, or your computer. Store sensitive data that is on paper documents or transportable media, such as portable external drives, in a safe or locked file cabinet.

Regularly maintain backup copies in at least three locations. The 3-2-1 backup principle is to keep three copies of your files on at least two different media with one offsite. Find out the backup schedule and retention policies of any centralized backup services you may use. Using only laptops, computer hard drives or external storage devices to store data is risky.

Consider individual storage vs. group storage. Individual storage files will be deleted when the owner leaves the institution. To retain the files, ownership must be transferred. Group storage decreases risk of data loss caused by team member departures. However, group storage accounts may not work for projects that contain data subject to data use agreements restricting access to certain named individuals.

Consider storage capacity. Size limits may prevent storage of large files, such as videos or 3D images. File number and sync limitations may not work for projects that generate many small files.

To plan for your storage system, consider the following questions.

Access Control How will you control access to keep the data secure? How will you ensure that collaborators can access your data securely? If creating, or collecting data in the field, how will you ensure its safe transfer into your main secured systems?
Sensitivity Does your data contain personal information? Do you have Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements? University Data Protection Standards provide protection guidance for highly sensitive data, sensitive data, internal use data, and public data.
Backup How will the data be backed up? How much drive space or CDs or DVDs will be required to maintain a backup schedule? Who will be responsible for backup and recovery? How will data be recovered in the event of an incident? How long will your backups be stored?
Storage How much data do you need to store? 5 megabytes (MB)? 5 gigabytes (GB)? 5 terabytes (TB)? Do you have enough storage or will you need to include charges for additional services?

UVA Storage and Backup Options

Database backup iconOne straightforward way to apply the 3-2-1 principle at UVA, is to store one local copy on your laptop, a second local copy on an external hard drive, and a remote copy on a secure option in the cloud (OneDrive and UVA Box may be used for public and sensitive data). Caveat: Make sure this storage and backup system is appropriate for your data given sensitivity levels and size. Make sure that your system follows University Data Protection Standards requirements.

UVA Box and OneDrive are not intended for highly sensitive data, such as health information, social security numbers or export-controlled research. Contact the UVA Information Security Office for information about storing highly sensitive data.

Files associated with an individual storage account, such as OneDrive or UVA Box, will be deleted when the owner leaves UVA. If you have an individual storage account, see OneDrive or UVA file management guidance for those leaving UVA.

Consider Microsoft Teams or Microsoft Groups for a group storage account. Group storage decreases data loss caused by team member departures. Be aware though that group storage accounts may not work for projects containing data subject to data use agreements restricting access to certain named individuals.

Consider Research Data Storage for research data measured in Gigabytes (GB), Terabytes (TB), and Petabytes (PB). UVA Research Computing provides this service. ITS also provides tiers of data storage for personal and non-research storage needs.

(The database backup image above is a Windows 8 icon available with a Universal Multimedia License Agreement for Icons8.)