Research Data Management
Research data management (RDM) refers to the process of managing research data throughout their lifecycle, i.e. from the beginning of the research project to publication. The University of Lucerne, in cooperation with the Central and University Library Lucerne (ZHB Luzern), would like to support researchers in finding their way through the complex matter of research, IT and law. In this context, among other things, a handout (German only) was developed to assist in the development of a data management plan (DMP).
Since RDM is discipline-specific and depends on the research data to be managed in each case, the handout only provides an overview and in particular cannot provide any detailed, (legally) binding information. If you have specific questions about an individual research project, please make use of the advisory services of the ZHB Luzern.
Research data refer to (digital) data generated during a research process. The type of data includes e.g. text, audio and image files, as well as surveys, statistics and measurement results.
Research data management refers to the process of managing research data throughout their lifecycle. The research data lifecycle includes:
- Planning, especially the development of a data management plan.
- Organization and documentation of data
- Data processing and data backup during the research process
- Maintaining legal and ethical principles and standards
- Publication, re-use and archiving of data
Efficient research data management depends on good planning. The development of a data management plan (DMP) creates clear structures in the research process, helps to identify any problems and guarantees the scientifically responsible management of research data. The DMP is preferably drawn up at the beginning of the project and adapted during the course of the research project. It is based on the lifecycle of the research data:
- Which data are collected, observed, generated or reused and how?
- How will the data be organized and documented?
- How and where will the data be backed up?
- What legal and ethical issues arise?
- Where will the data be published or archived after the end of the project?
Since October 2017, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) requires the submission of a DMP for most funding instruments. The Central and University Library of Lucerne (ZHB Luzern) advises researchers at the University of Lucerne on the development of a data management plan.
Reproducibility during and after the research project are favored by good organization and documentation of research data.
The organization of research data is based in particular on a well thought-out filing and folder system. What data is stored where and under what name is crucial for the reproducability of the research results and the re-use of the research data. It is recommended to evaluate the organization of the data sufficiently at the beginning of the research project and to maintain a once chosen system throughout the project.
Despite a clearly structured organization, research data can be useless for reproducibility and re-use if they are not documented. Documentation of research data provides information about the research method used and the procedures followed in collecting, observing, and generating the research data, as well as their metadata. The documentation should record all information that other researchers need in order to understand and ideally re-use the collected data.
A file format should be chosen according to the requirements of easy editing, reproducibility and re-use. If this is not possible during the research process, the data must be converted at the end into a format that ensures the long-term preservation of them.
Research data and their analysis form the core of research activity. To prevent data loss or data manipulation, it is advisable to think about data backup and storage before the research project begins. The choice of a specific storage medium/location (notebook, external hard drive, USB stick, cloud, etc.) depends on the respective research data (data volume, shared data, data privacy). Regular backup of the data on an additional storage device is recommended.
Ethical and legal principles and standards must be complied with in the collection, use, processing, storage and publication of data, which in many cases requires special management of research data:
For data privacy reasons, the processing of personal data requires a declaration of consent (informed consent) from the persons concerned and, in the case of publication, possibly an anonymization of the data or specific access restrictions.
The research project and, depending on their design, the research data on which the project is based are works protected by copyright. The re-use of data (including third-party data for one's own research project) may therefore require compliance with copyright regulations. Associated with this are requirements from the educational institution regarding whether or which data may be published on a repository, for example.
Questions regarding data protection and copyrights depend on the individual case and sometimes require special legal clarifications. The DMLawTool may be able to help in narrowing down the questions. In addition, the Central and University Library of Lucerne (ZHB Luzern) is also available to assist researchers at the University of Lucerne with recommendations on legal issues. However, legally binding advice cannot be provided.
In the spirit of good scientific practices, research funders and institutions require a responsible approach to research data management. With increasing digitization, this also includes in many cases making research data publicly accessible to ensure transparency in research and to enable re-use of the data for scientific purposes. The publication of research data favors the scientific visibility and reputation of researchers. The University of Lucerne generally requires its researchers to make their data publicly available, unless there are ethical and/or legal reasons not to do so.
For this purpose, the research data can be published in subject-specific or interdisciplinary institutional repositories, as well as in special data journals. The repository available to researchers at the University of Lucerne is the Lucerne Open Repository (LORY), which is managed by the Central and University Library of Lucerne (ZHB Luzern).
To enable subsequent use, the data must be provided with a persistent identifier (e.g. DOI) and a usage license (e.g. Creative Commons) upon publication.
The Central and University Library is happy to advise researchers at the University of Lucerne on the selection of a repository and on the preparation of data for publication.