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Research Data Management

This guide provides best practices and resources for managing your research data for any discipline.

Self Paced Training Resources

The Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) is the foundation of new innovative environmental science through a distributed framework and sustainable cyberinfrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, robust, and secure access to well-described and easily discovered Earth observational data. DataONE will ensure the preservation, access, use and reuse of multi-scale, multi-discipline, and multi-national science data via three primary cyberinfrastucture elements (coordinating nodes, member nodes, and a broad education and outreach program.   

Education is integral to DataONE and spans formal graduate-level training in research and cyber-infrastructure development, to developing informal inquiry-based education modules that allow students of all ages to ask their own specific questions. DataONE is committed to engaging a broad and diverse community of users, engaging students and citizens in science through efforts that span the entire data life cycle, from data gathering, to management, to analysis and publication. The Data Management Skillbuilding Hub is the dashboard to their repository of open educational resources, and includes best practices, lessons, and videos. All of their education resources can be found on their GitHub site.

Data Management Best Practices 

The following lessons include downloadable presentations and support documents. 

Lesson 01: Why Data Management

Lesson 02: Data Sharing 

Lesson 03: Data Management Planning 

Lesson 04: Data Entry and Manipulation

Lesson 05: Data Quality Control and Assurance 

Lesson 06: Protecting Your Data 

Lesson 07: Metadata 

Lesson 08: Data Citation 

Lesson 09: Analysis and Workflows 

Lesson 10: Legal and Policy Issues 

The UK Data Archive is home to the UK's largest collection of social, economic, and population data for over 50 years.  They provide researchers with training, support, and data access as the lead partner of the UK Data Service.  They host several important standards and documents for the research community.  Their other site is the UK Data Service. They have an extensive list of guides covering datasets, topics, methods and software , and guides to exploring online. 

  • ELSST, the European Language Social Science Thesaurus 
  • HASSET, the Humanities and Social Science Electronic Thesaurus.
  • Managing and Sharing Data - Best Practices For Researchers PDF This guide was the premier standard on research data management for many years. It was originally published in 2009 and updated in 2011. 
  • Managing and Sharing Research Data: a guide to good practice is the most recent version (2020) of their RDM guide. It was commissioned by SAGE Publishing and can be obtained from their website. SAGE has created a Student Resources site that offers videos, case studies, weblinks, tools and templates, checklists, exercises, real world data, and answers to chapter exercises for the guide.
  • Managing and Sharing Data Training Resources PDF  
  • Microdata Handling and Security Guide to Good Practice PDF  
  • QAMyData tool is free easy-to-use tool that automatically detects some of the most common problems in survey and other numeric data and creates a ‘data health check’, assisting with the clean up of data and providing an assurance that data is of a high quality. Data Impact Blog post about QAMyData. 
  • Nesstar is a a software system for data publishing and online analysis. The software consists of tools which enables data providers to disseminate their data on the Web. Nesstar handles survey data and multidimensional tables as well as text resources. Users can search, browse and analyse the data online.   

ICPSR is the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Science Research, part of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. The University of Virginia is a member institution. They maintain a data archive with more than 250,000 files. They provide guidance on preparing data for deposit in their (and other) repositories, data management planning, data preparation, data sharing, access, confidentiality, citations, preservation, variables, and other topics. Their Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving (6th edition) is one of the best guides for preparing research data for reuse.   

The Research Data Management Librarian Academy (RDMLA) is a free online professional development program for librarians, information professionals, or other professionals who work in a data-intensive environment throughout the world. RDMLA features a unique partnership between a LIS academic program, seven academic health sciences and research libraries in the New England area, and Elsevier. 

The RDMLA curriculum focuses on the essential knowledge and skills needed to collaborate effectively with researchers on data management. The curriculum features Eight Online Self-paced Learning Units that cover topics such as the foundations of research data management (RDM), research culture, advocating and marketing for RDM services in libraries, project management, an overview of research data management tools and etc. Courses are hosted on the Canvas Network

The Research Data Management and Sharing MOOC is the product of the Curating Research Assets and Data Using Lifecycle Education (CRADLE) Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collaboration with EDINA at the University of Edinburgh, and was funded by the IMLS.  The CRADLE Project is a collaboration between the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the Odum Institute for Research and Social Science, and the UNC University Libraries.  It is offered free through Coursera.  The course takes 5 weeks to complete. The content includes supplementary videos, quizzes, assignments, a glossaries, references and additional resources.  The modules are:  

  • Week 1: Understanding Research Data
  • Week 2: Data Management Planning​
  • Week 3: Working with Data​
  • Week 4: Sharing Data​
  • Week 5: Archiving Data

ESIP is the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners.  They are sponsored by NASA and NOAA, and all materials are licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 and are freely available to the public for use, sharing, repurposing and remixing. The ESIP Commons Knowledge Repository has many resources available.

ESIP is the home of the Data Management Training (DMT) Clearinghouse which is a registry for online learning resources focusing on research data management.

Data Management Short Course for Scientists  The course is comprised of a set of modules (vimeo) and related resources.

  • The Case for Data Stewardship
  • Data Management Plans
  • Local Data Management
  • Responsible Data Use

DDI, the Data Documentation Initiative, is an international standard for describing the data produced by surveys and other observational methods in the social, behavioral, economic, and health sciences (metadata). DDI is a free standard that can document and manage different stages in the research data lifecycle, such as conceptualization, collection, processing, distribution, discovery, and archiving. Documenting data with DDI facilitates understanding, interpretation, and use -- by people, software systems, and computer networks. Use DDI to Document, Discover, and Interoperate!

Their Training Library includes Introduction to DDI, Best Practices document, Why Metadata is Awesome, Discover the Power of DDI Metadata, DDI Basics, XML Schema, and UML Tutorial. 

MANTRA is a free online self-paced course designed for postgraduate students and early career researchers which provide guidelines for good practice in research data management. MANTRA is a product of EDiNA, part of the EDiNA and the University of Edinburgh. Most of the 9 interactive online modules cover the terminology, key concepts, and best practice in research data management.  These are UK-centric, so some of the more legal aspects will focus on their region. The last module contains downloadable tutorials for data handling skills in R, SPSS, NVivo, or ArcGIS. Brochure for MANTRA.

The University of Edinburgh has several useful downloadable pdf guides on Open Research and Making Your Research Data 'FAIR'

 The modules:

  • Research data in context
  • Data management planning
  • Organising data
  • File formats & transformations
  • Documentation, metadata, citation
  • Storage & security
  • Protecting sensitive data
  • Sharing, preserving & licensing
  • Data handling tutorials

CESSDA is the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives. Their Data Management Expert Guide is designed by European experts to help social science researchers make their research data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). You can download a PDF of the entire document, or individual chapters.  The online version includes extensive examples and related content.