Data Management and Technology Planning

The University of Western Sydney is committed to being a national leader in enabling research data management. Not sure if your data management is up to scratch? See if you can answer all the questions in the Data Management Checklist (PDF, 63.55 KB). Do you need a data management plan? Get started by populating the easy-to-use Data Management Plan (DOC, 346 KB), which corresponds to the checklist.

Once you have a Data Management Plan, see what technology solutions would be of most benefit to your research. UWS is developing technology solutions dedicated to researchers. Check out the IT Service Catalogue, in the subsection under Research, to find out more. If you would like further consultation on your technology options, you may contact eResearch.

If your data can be reused, make it discoverable by adding it to the Research Data Repository. This will provide a permanent, citable location for your data. A catalogue entry will be added to the searchable Research Data Catalogue, which will make it searchable, and allow others to find this data and reuse it. This is also a good way for you, as the researcher, to park your data sets in a secure location where you will be able to find it later. To have your data included, simply fill in a short form which will be submitted to the Library.

The additional detail below will give you some basic concepts and some options available from the university related to data management. One way to get started now is to get the Data Management Checklist (PDF, 63.55 KB), and start answering the questions for yourself.

To see what UWS can offer you and skip all the background knowledge, visit storage and archiving.

Why data management is important

Agencies like the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) now require that an open access repository be used to host the data produced by the research it funds, both in terms of publications and related data. Such a commitment to open access is also articulated in the UWS Research Code of Practice, which is founded on the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) (opens in a new window).  Many of you will also be aware that a number of journals are now seeking formal compliance with open access for the data underpinning the research they publish.

With good data management, a researcher can get maximum value from their data, plan for their data needs, and preserve and cite their data as long as necessary. It is in the interest of Australia, the University, and researchers to gain the maximum benefit from research which is funded through various means. One of the ways to maximise benefit is to maximise reuse of the data where possible. Good data planning will identify data that can be reused and made available, and on what terms. Some data should be restricted for approved use only, but there is a large variety of data which can be made available and queried or analysed in new ways – sometimes in combination with multiple data sets.

Data defined

  • Data is the basis upon which conclusions are drawn and statements are made. It is the givens, the responses, the variables that result from sampling, measuring, testing, and querying.
  • Raw data is processed, transcribed, converted, analysed into a more useful form. The resulting subset is also considered data.
  • Often researchers use methodologies, tools, instruments, software programs, and software code to process, convert, or analyse data. For research to be repeatable, and for the data to be reused, it should be kept with any software or tools required to read it and understand it, so in this sense it is part of the data.
  • A data set can be applicable to one, or more than one research investigation.
  • Data will be created by the current research, or made available from an institution, or another researcher.
  • Data may be in physical form, such as tissue samples or paper forms, and may be in electronic form, such as scans, digital video, or spreadsheets.
  • Planning out what you will do to meet the requirements of the research, such as restricting access, or making data freely available, is an integral part of conducting research.

Data lifecycle

Research data follows a life cycle, like this one. It is created, processed, analysed, preserved, and made available for reuse where possible.

  • Creating Data: designing, planning consent, collection and management, capturing and creating metadata
  • Processing Data:  entering, transcribing, checking & validating, anonymising and describing
  • Analysing Data: interpreting, deriving, producing outputs & publishing, preparing for sharing
  • Preserving Data: migrating, backing-up, storing, creating metadata and documentation, archiving
  • Access to Data: distributing, sharing, controlling access, promoting
  • Re-using Data: for follow-ups, new research, research reviews, scrutinising, teaching & learning

Source: UK Data Archive – Data Lifecycle (opens in a new window).

Data management in a nutshell

Data Management can mean quite a few things up to and including policies, procedures, technologies, and so on, but on a simplified level it means planning for the types of data you’ll be generating, where it will be stored, how it will be accessed, and how long to keep it. And if the data can be reused, what terms of use are granted to the next user?

Once you have created a plan, following the data management plan is data management in action. To get started, use this Data Management Checklist (PDF, 63.55 KB). Then write up your responses in this template - Data Management Plan (DOC, 346 KB).

To better understand data management, the following links provide useful context and detail regarding ways to think about your data and how to craft and excellent data management plan.

Finding your data

A description of the data (also called metadata) must be included with your data to make it useful and reusable. It will also help you re-create your conclusions. Describing your data is a key component of taking care of your data.

Research Data Catalogue

For others to search for and reuse research data, the description must be added to a searchable location, such as the UWS Research Data Catalogue. The Research Data Catalogue uses data descriptions like a label, and includes a reference to the data itself. The label summarises what the data is, where it fits in with the overall data set or corpus, where it’s from, who created (and used) it, and what it’s being used for.

For more information on the Research Data Catalogue, please contact the Library Research Services Coordinator.

Storage and archiving

First and foremost, bear in mind the difference between working storage and archive storage. Working storage is where you put the data and ‘stuff’ you’re working with/on. Archive storage is where you put the data and ‘stuff’ that you’ve finished working with, at least for that project, paper or publication. UWS offers both.

Working Storage

For working storage, you can take advantage of UWS’s Research Shared Drive. Read the FAQ (PDF, 274.53 KB) to learn more. To request one, fill in a request form (PDF, 179.9 KB).

Working storage is also available from AARNET (opens in a new window), a federally funded academic and research company. They can offer working storage in the form of Cloudstor, and Cloudstor+ (opens in a new window) (aka Cloudstorplus). Cloudstor+ is just like Dropbox in many ways, but hosted in Australia, and with higher quotas. (If you do sign up for Cloudstor+, we would be interested in hearing what you like or don't like about it. Email us your feedback).

Archival Storage

At UWS, the Research Data Repository is the place for archival storage for electronic or digital research data, with a citable URL (or digital object identifier (DOI)) which will point to a short descriptions of the data and may include a link to the data itself, depending on the rules of use and access.

More about the Research Data Repository visit the UWS Research Data Repository Project

To add your data to the Research Data Repository, please fill in this short form expressing your interest, or contact the Library Research Services Coordinator.

There are multiple repositories scattered through the country and through the world, which serve as an archival place for research data.

Repository Lists

Example Repositories

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