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The Library: Research Data

What is Research Data?

Research Data is information which has been created, collected or recorded to evidence research findings. 

Whilst usually digital, it can also be non-digital for example sketchbooks or laboratory notebooks. 

Research Data Management

Research Data Management (RDM) refers to the organisation, storage and preservation of your research data throughout the lifecycle of your project.

There are many potential benefits of good research data management for you, your institution, collaborators and others researchers:

  • Keep research safe, secure and lawful
  • Stay organised and efficient 
  • Increase research validity and integrity
  • Increase research visibility and citations
  • Enable collaboration and data reuse

FAIR principles

FAIR data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable. These principles set out how data should be organised so that they can be found, understood, shared and reused. This adds value to your research as others can utilise or build on your findings and it increases research transparency   

For more information and guidance, see the OpenAire How to Make Your Data FAIR guide.

Sharing Data

Research data is a valuable part of scholarly communication, with funders, publishers and our institutional policies requiring you to share it wherever possible. Data should be 'as open as possible, as closed as necessary.' The UK Data Service provides a useful list of reasons to share data

Plan for Open Data in advance

Ideally, you should incorporate a strategy for open data into your Data Management Plan and ethical approval application. This will help you to think about the data you collect, the participant consent you request and any data anonymisation you need to carry out after your research is completed. It will also help you think about which data repository to use, such as our Thesis and Research Data Repository (Figshare)

Reasons for not making data open

There are ethical, legal and commercial reasons which may prevent you from making your data open including:

  • Ethical concerns - Sensitive or confidential data where no consent for data sharing has been granted.
  • Legal restrictions -  Your data cannot be shared under the Data Protection Act or where you are not the owner of the data.
  • Commercial - You may be working with a commercial company who will not allow you to make data open (although you must abide by section 4.10 of the University's Open Research Policy)

Where data is confidential or sensitive, you may be able to anonymise it in order to share. This is why it's beneficial to consider Open Data requirements whilst designing the study and before applying for ethical approval. 

Please contact the Research Services team if you have questions or concerns about making your research data open. 

Open Research Policy

Leeds Beckett University's Open Research Policy sets out our commitment to making the products of our research (both outputs and research data) publicly available.

UK Data Service

The UK Data Service has useful guidance on managing your research data throughout its lifecycle, including planning, sharing, data ethics, copyright and storage.