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What are research data?

Research data represent all the data, that are collected, produced, developed, described and/or analysed with scholarly methods and that are sufficiently documented.[1]

Common formats of research data are:

  • audio and video recordings of interviews
  • transcripts of text and audio recordings
  • annotations and excerpts
  • bibliographies
  • text and speech corpora
  • analysis of quantitative empirical social research and statistical surveys
  • scripts and source code
  • images of physical objects, graphics or diagrams
  • network analysis and visualisations
  • geodata

Data, i.e. information on properties of analytic units, become research data on the basis of scholarly methods and documentation. Documentation of research data is done via metadata.

1. The following scientific essay examines menus on the basis of Pierre Bourdieu’s cultural theory. Thereby, a corpus published as a set of data is referenced.

  • essay:
    Jurafsky, Dan/Chahuneau, Victor/Routledge, Bryan R./Smith, Noah A.: “Linguistic Markers of Status in Food Culture: Bourdieu’s Distinction in a Menu Corpus.” In: Journal of Cultural Analytics (2016). DOI: 10.31235/osf.io/j9tga.
  • corresponding set of data:
    Jurafsky, Dan: “Linguistic Markers of Status in Food Culture: Bourdieu’s Distinction in a Menu Corpus” data and scripts. Harvard Dataverse (2016), V1. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/QMLCPD.

2. The following data paper describes a set of data related to archaeological excavations of skull bones:

  • Radović, Marija/Stefanović, Sofija/Edinborough, Kevan: “Cranial Age Assessment and Cranial Pathology from the Mesolithic-Neolithic Inhabitants of the Danube Gorges, Serbia.” In: Journal of Open Archaeology Data 4 (2015): p. e5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/joad.aj

3. The following data paper describes a database of early Afro-American films:

  • Cifor, Marika/Girma, Hanna/Norman, Shanya/Posner, Miriam: “Early African-American Film Database, 1909–1930.” In: Journal of Open Humanities Data 4 (2018): p. 1. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/johd.7

Advantages of planned data management

Planned data management is an important feature in the daily life of researchers, since it supports their work in a range of ways:

  • Systematic collecting, recording and storage of research data facilitates your own research and protects against data loss;
  • The publication of research data increases the visibility of one’s own research and accentuates one’s academic profile;[2]


  • The traceability and transparency of research performance is increased;
  • New collaborations and networks with other researchers can emerge;
  • Expert knowledge is preserved and facilitates new research;
  • Published research data can be used for secondary analysis with new research questions and methods or where data from diverse sources is combined;
  • Current research funding requirements will be met and the prospects for funding will increase


[1] Kindling, Maxi/Schirmbacher, Peter: „Die digitale Forschungswelt“ als Gegenstand der Forschung. In: Information – Wissenschaft & Praxis 64 (2013) Nr. 2-3, S. 127-136. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/iwp-2013-0017

[2] Vgl. zum Zitationsvorteil https://www.forschungsdaten.org/index.php/Data_citation#Litertaur_zum_Zitationsvorteil_durch_.22data_sharing.22, am 19.11.2019. — Piwowar, Heather/Vision, Todd J.: Data Reuse and the Open Data Citation Advantage. In: PeerJ PrePrints 175 (2013). DOI: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.175

Picture credits

Header Research Data: „Mraconia Church in the Small Kazan Danube on Romania Serbia Border” © Gary Bembridge via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Research Data Pyramid: © BSB/A. Štanzel, CC BY 4.0 | Manage Research Data: own adaptation © Gaelen Pinnock (http://scarletstudio.net/), CC BY 4.0 | Publish Research Data: own adaptation © Gaelen Pinnock (http://scarletstudio.net/), CC BY 4.0 | Use Research Data: own adaptation © Gaelen Pinnock (http://scarletstudio.net/), CC BY 4.0 |


Dr Arnošt Štanzel

Email: arnost.stanzel(at)bsb-muenchen.de

Phone: +49 (0)89/28638-2832