Costing data management for your research

An important part of the data management plan is to cost the resources needed to implement good data practices. This includes people’s time, equipment, infrastructure and tools to manage, document, organise, store and provide access to data.

There should be no additional costs involved for archiving data, other than the time it takes for a researcher(s) to prepare data and documentation for deposit.

This time should be costed into the application. On average, it is recommended that two to three weeks are costed into an a typical two-year research grant application, to prepare and collate materials for deposit. However, owing to the disparate nature of research and data creation, we cannot provide advice on exact costs likely to be incurred in data preparation.

There are two approaches to costing research data management and sharing it in advance of a research project starting. Either can be used in a data management plan, or can be used to inform a funding application.

Approach 1

All data-related activities and resources for the entire data lifecycle – from data creation, through processing, analyses and storage, to sharing and long-term preservation – can be priced to calculate the total cost of all data generation, data sharing, data access and preservation activities.

Approach 2

Only the resources that would be needed to preserve and make research data shareable beyond the primary research team are identified. These resources may include: people, equipment, infrastructure and tools to manage, document, organise, store and provide access to data.

Data management costing tool

There is no hard and fast rule for costing research data management, as some projects will afford more attention to detailed data documentation, organisation and formatting than others, as part of routine fieldwork, or data preparation before analysis.

You can work out appropriate costs for various activities typically associated with preparing data in terms of people’s time and equipment/software needed. Much data preparation can be carried out as part of the research process during data entry and transcription, therefore significantly reducing the cost of preparing data for archiving.

However, the UK Data Service has developed a simple activity-based costing tool that can be used if taking Approach 2 (above) to costing data management in the social sciences.

The tool lists a series of data management activities and topics considered to be pertinent for data sharing. Comments and suggestions are given for each topic, to help you decide whether you need additional resources for a particular data management activity with indicative costs.

Access data management costing tool and checklist.

When using the data management costing tool or assessing the costs for research data management, you may find the following resources helpful: