Answering your questions

What is data?

Data is information in all its forms. We're talking about the conventional formats; tables of measurements, plots, images and videos, but also the records of the experiment, the development materials, tools and software developed for the project, the instructions for using the software, recipes... the list goes on. 

Why should I spend hours planning what to do with my project's data?

By planning how you are going to management your data you can:

  • find it easily; you'll know where everything is and how it is named,
  • keep it safe; you'll know it's backed up and secure by encrypting it,
  • and save time; again you'll be able to find things quickly, but you'll also have everything in future-proof formats and with everything you need to make sense of it (metadata).

Where should I store my data?

The University provides a number of resources for storing and sharing your data with your colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire and at other institutes.

As staff, you are allocated a personal storage area - a U: drive - which is backed up by the University. You will also have access to your school's X: drive as will everyone else in your school.

We can also set up a shared drive for your research group - an R: drive - or an area on the Document Management System (DMS); requests for these should be made to the HelpDesk using the Request Storage request form.  More details on these services are in the University Storage section.

Why should I make my data public?

Firstly, in line with government changes, funding bodies require you to make your data available for reuse in open access archives. But there are good reasons why you should share your data. If your data is reused in any way, you will gain credit for your data and your papers will be cited increasing their impact and your employability.

Your data will also be readily available for your reuse protected from obsolescence and loss. You should also consider the benefit to your work of having the data from other studies available to you; you can compare your results easily, verify other research, and expand on that research in new directions.

Where can I learn more about Research Data Management?

There are courses at the University that focus on various aspects of RDM, as well as online materials on this site and others, and courses run by the Digital Curation Centre. Check out our training pages for more information.