How Do I Initiate Research Data Management?

Whether or not research data is published as part of a research project, you should always consider backup and storage. In this way you reduce the risk of data loss and find your way around your data more easily.

 

Data Storage and Backup: Three Copies of your Data on two Different Media, one of which at an External Location

Data storage and backups of your work files are essential for protection against data loss. A hard disk is easily broken or the laptop with the almost finished essay may be stolen. It is therefore highly advisable to have a copy of files on your workstation, on an external hard drive or USB stick located somewhere safe as well as on additional online services. For example, many universities and data centres offer cloud storage. Network drives of your own institute/department may also be available. There also exist a number of commercial services, such as Dropbox. These may be used as well, although confidential and/or sensitive data should not be entrusted to these providers for reasons of data protection.[1]

 

File Naming and Storage

Consistent file naming and filing conventions simplify navigation through your data. For example, such rules may be as follows:

  • Consistent structure of folder and file names. Stick to a system once it has been defined. Consider a clear folder hierarchy. This should not be too complicated, should not include too many levels and the folder names should make sense.
  • Use descriptive file names such as Photos_Archive_XY_Datum or Measurement_series_XY_Datum. For the automated renaming of files programmes such as Renamit or Renamer exist.[2]
  • Do not use symbols such as ? = % & §.
  • For word separations it is best to use the underscore _.
  • Create versions of your files, for example according to the system v01 (version 0.1).
  • It may be useful to enter dates in the following format: YYYYMMDD. It simplifies the assignment and enables the chronological sorting of several files.
  • Name abbreviations are useful for research projects with several employees.
  • Example for a file name: Research data_survey_Czech Republic_20190823_v01_AS.odt
  • Record your file naming and filing conventions, as well as a data management plan!
  • In the case of data in tables or databases, it is advisable to describe briefly in a readme file which data are contained in the files in the storage folder and to explain what individual field names or abbreviations stand for.

 

Further Information:

 

Recommendations for Data Formats

Not all data formats are equally suitable for archiving your research data. It is unlikely that less common data formats will still be readable and usable in ten or 20 years. For data formats used exclusively by one commercial provider, there is also a risk that the company will not be able to provide long-term support for the specific data format.

It is therefore strongly recommended to use only such data formats and associated software with a wide user base and, if possible, use open, standardised data formats.

You may find additional information and recommendations on data formats through the following links:

 

Describing Research Data with the Help of Metadata

Metadata are data that describe other data. You are probably familiar with titles in library catalogues which represent metadata for books.

The main task of metadata, when describing research data, is to make them searchable and comprehensible. Accordingly, current metadata standards contain bibliographic information such as the title, date of publication or name of the creator. They also contain more detailed information on the contents of the research data, for example in the form of an abstract, the description of the methods applied or the topic.

The issue of metadata is fully described here:

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about a suitable metadata scheme for the description of your own research data.

 

Further Information

FAIR-Prinzipien zu Forschungsdaten: Findable, Accesible, Interoperable, Re-Usable

Materialkatalog zum Forschungsdatenmanagement der DINI/nestor-AG Forschungsdaten im Rahmen des Verbundprojekts FDMentor

Andorfer, Peter: „Forschungsdaten in den (digitalen) Geisteswissenschaften – Versuch einer Konkretisierung“. DARIAH-DE working papers 14 (2015).

Kindling, Maxi/Schirmbacher, Peter: „Die digitale Forschungswelt“ als Gegenstand der Forschung. In: Information – Wissenschaft & Praxis 64 (2013) Nr. 2-3, S. 127-136

 


Footnotes

[1] Cf. What sort of things should I not store in Dropbox?: http://kb.mit.edu/confluence/x/Z3kYCQ, am 19.11.2019.

[2] Examples for automatic renaming in Windows: "Rename It" https://sourceforge.net/projects/renameit/ or "Renamer" http://www.antp.be/software/renamer and for Mac "NameChanger" https://mrrsoftware.com/namechanger/.

 

 

Contact

Dr. Arnošt Štanzel

Email: arnost.stanzel(at)bsb-muenchen.de
Telephon: +49 (0)89/28638-2832