Why research data management?

Data - information obtained from experiments, simulations, observations, interviews, etc. - are the foundation of scientific research, since data are the basis for new hypotheses and scientific theories. It is therefore important that the data is properly managed so that data is not lost, not inadvertently changed, and cannot be manipulated, and to ensure that research data remain traceable, accessible and usable for others. Research data management therefore focuses on the optimal organization of procedures regarding the handling of data, both in terms of infrastructure, procedures and workflows.
Protecting research data from loss or accidental changes through good research data management is particularly important when generating data that are unique or laborious to (re)obtain (for instance, long-term observation data about weather, certain patient-related data, etc.) .

Research data management should also ensure the personal use of data on the long term and enable sharing of data for reuse, since you will be working together with others during your research or because others may build on or continue your research after completion of your research project. This argument (data-driven science, collaborative science) is stressed in particular by the open-science movement.

In addition to the above-mentioned motivations, research organizations and research funders increasingly have mandatory guidelines with regard to research data management aimed at ensuring scientific integrity in research and the promotion of "open data" (i.e, make relevant data that result from publicly funded research freely available as much as possible)

Below is a brief overview of RDM policies of various "stakeholders":

Research Organizations (VSNU, KNAW)
A number of organizations that promote the advancement of science in the Netherlands (such as KNAW and VSNU) have formulated policies or guidelines with regards to RDM. The Code of Conduct by the VSNU (the Association of Dutch Universities) contains guidelines on the adequate handling of raw data safeguarding the quality of data collections, and the storage of raw research data. The VSNU Code of Conduct stipulates that raw data should be stored at least 10 years. These rules are clearly based on common principles with regards to academic integrity.
The VSNU, NWO and KNAW have also developed the standard evaluation protocol (SEP), which forms the basis for the evaluation of scientific research in the Netherlands. The SEP protocol includes a data management section in which faculties should describe their policies, activities and infrastructure with respect to research data management.

Funding Bodies (NWO, EU)
Apart from the above-mentioned research organizations, funding bodies have implemented requirements and/or guidelines on RDM. Often these guidelines translate into an obligation to submit a datamanagement section and a data management plan during the grant application procedure. An overview of the RDM policies of several major research funders can be found here.

Journals
More and more scientific journals have been implementing policies on data availability. These policies can vary from providing supplementary information to publishing the raw data underlying a publication. See page After research project.

TU/e policy
Our university has drafted a code of conduct on scientific and academic integrity, which is based on the code of conduct of the VSNU. The TU/e Code of Conduct contains five core values regarding scientific integrity: openness, reliability, intellectual honesty, independence and social responsibility. It is evident that good research data management can support and promote integrity in scientific research based on these core values.

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3. Openness

Open and unbiased communication is essential for science and engineering. For academic
staff and students, this entails that:
(…)

  • Whenever they publish research results, they present their research such that its results may in principle be replicated
  • They make accessible, after publication,all information needed for intersubjective testing of design results and design processes
  • They make accessible, after publication, research data for re-use by colleagues.

From: TU/e Code of Scientific Conduct

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RDM programme at de TU/e
The TU/e recognizes the importance of good research data management in order to ensure the efficient research practices, to safeguard practices that support scientific integrity, facilitate an up-to-date research infrastructure and increase the social impact of research. The TU/e has therefore launched the Research Data Management programme at the Table Research and Valorisation. In this programme, research support services and researchers work together to professionalize research data management at the TU/e and provide support to researchers in organizing effective research data management practices. More information about the RDM programme can be found here (intranet).