Shared best practices

Research centres and programmes can support researchers through a coordinated data management framework of shared best practices. This can include local guidance, templates and pointers to key policies.

Research centres and departments benefit from dedicated central research coordination, which can provide important input into planning and implementing data management and sharing activities. They also benefit from a centralised approach to data management, providing both economies of scale and a lasting framework.

This approach has a number of benefits:

  • The sharing of good practice and data management experiences between researchers, building capacity, collective knowledge and resources for the centre.
  • A uniform approach to data management and creating standard policies on various data-related procedures and activities.
  • A record of who owns data, helping keep track of projects and data over time.
  • Data can be stored and backed up in a central location.
  • All researchers and staff can be made aware of duties, responsibilities and funder requirements regarding research data, with easy access to relevant information.
  • It ensures that data management is costed into funding proposals.

A data management framework

At the same time, researchers may also need to take responsibility for managing their own data, which might require some flexibility to adapt to both distinct methodological or disciplinary requirements.

To provide a data management framework, research hubs can develop the following:

  • Assigned data management responsibilities to named individuals.
  • Standardised forms – for example for consent procedures, ethical review and data management plans.
  • Standards and protocols – for example data quality control standards, data transcription standards and confidentiality agreements for data handlers.
  • File sharing and storage procedures.
  • A security policy for data storage and transmission.
  • A data retention and destruction policy.
  • Data copyright and ownership statements for the centres and for individual researchers.
  • Standard data format recommendations.
  • Version control and file naming guidelines.
  • Information on funder requirements or policies on managing and sharing data that apply to projects or the centre.
  • A research data sharing strategy – for example via an institutional repository, data centre or website.

Centralised data management is especially beneficial for data formatting, storage and backup. It also helps to govern data sharing policies, establish copyright and intellectual property rights over data, and assign roles and responsibilities.