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Research Guides

Research Data Management

Before Getting Started

Defining Research Data

Research data is defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A110/2CFR 215.36 as "the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings." This definition was adopted by Texas A&M University and included in The Responsible Stewardship of Research Data

What Is Research Data?

Research data includes information produced in any form or media during a research investigation (it may vary discipline by discipline):

Text and numeric information

  • Documents (text, Word), spreadsheets
  • Research notes
  • Laboratory notebooks, field notebooks, diaries
  • Questionnaires, transcripts, codebooks
  • Numeric information

Collection of digital and physical objects acquired and generated during the process of research

  • Photos, films, and videos

  • Diagrams

  • Images

  • Test responses

  • Charts and graphs

  • Protein or genetic sequences

  • Slides, artifacts, specimens, samples

Materials and other recorded information necessary for the reconstruction and evaluation of reported results of research

  • Models, algorithms, scripts

  • Contents of an application (input, output, logfiles for analysis software, simulation software, schemas)

  • Methodologies and workflows

  • Standard operating procedures and protocols

Adapted from The Responsible Stewardship of Research Data, and Defining Research Data by North Carolina State Universities Libraries.

The following research records may also be important to manage during and after a research project is completed though they may not be required to be included in a data management plan:

  • Correspondence (electronic mail and paper-based correspondence)
  • Project files
  • Grant applications
  • Ethics applications
  • Technical reports
  • Research reports
  • Signed consent forms

Adapted from Defining Research Data by North Carolina State Universities Libraries and Defining Research Data by the University of Oregon Libraries.

Exclusions from Sharing

Examples of some data may not be sharable:

  • Trade secrets, commercial information, materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information which is protected under law; and 
  • personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular person in a research study. 

In addition to the other records to manage( see "Other Records to Manage"), some kinds of data may not be sharable due to the nature of the records themselves, or to ethical and privacy concerns. As defined by the OMB, this refers to:

  • preliminary analyses,
  • drafts of scientific papers,
  • plans for future research,
  • peer reviews, or 
  • communications with colleagues

Adapted from The Responsible Stewardship of Research Data, and Defining Research Data by North Carolina State Universities Libraries.