Data management checklist

This checklist helps can help you identify best practices for data management and data sharing.

Planning

  • Who is responsible for which part of data management?
  • Are new skills required for any activities?
  • Do you need extra resources to manage data, such as people, time or hardware?
  • Have you accounted for costs associated with depositing data for longer-term preservation and access?

Documenting

  • Will others be able to understand your data and use them properly?
  • Are your structured data self-explanatory in terms of variable names, codes and abbreviations used?
  • Which descriptions and contextual documentation explain what your data mean, how they were collected and the methods used to create them?
  • How will you label and organise data, records and files?
  • Will you be consistent in how data are catalogued?

 Formatting

  • Are you using standardised and consistent procedures to collect, process, transcribe, check, validate and verify data, such as standard protocols, templates or input forms?
  • Which data formats will you use? Do formats and software enable sharing and long-term sustainability of data, such as non-proprietary software and software based on open standards?
  • When converting data across formats, do you check that no data, annotation or internal metadata have been lost or changed?

Storing

  • Are your digital and non-digital data, and any copies, held in multiple safe and secure locations?
  • Do you need to securely store personal or sensitive data? If so, are they properly protected?
  • If data are collected with mobile devices, how will you transfer and store the data?
  • If data are held in multiple places, how will you keep track of versions?
  • Are your files backed up sufficiently and regularly and are backups stored safely?
  • Do you know which version of your data files is the master?
  • Who has access to which data during and after research? Is there a need for access restrictions? How will these be managed after you are dead?
  • How long will you store your data for and do you need to select which data to keep and which to destroy?

 Confidentiality, ethics and consent

  • Do your data contain confidential or sensitive information? If so, have you discussed data sharing with the respondents from whom you collected the data?
  • Are you gaining written consent from respondents to share data beyond your research?
  • Do you need to anonymise data, for example, to remove identifying information or personal data, during research or in preparation for sharing?

Copyright

  • Have you established who owns the copyright in your data? Might there be joint copyright?
  • Have you considered which kind of license is appropriate for sharing your data and what, if any, restrictions there might be on re-use?
  • If you are purchasing or re-using someone else’s data sources have you considered how that data might be shareable, for example negotiating a new licence with the original supplier?
  • Can you preserve for the long-term, personal information so that it can be used in the future?

Sharing

  • Do you intend to make all your data available for sharing or how will you select which data to preserve and share?
  • How and where will you preserve your research data for the longer-term?
  • How will you make your data accessible to future users?

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