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  1. Research integrity
  2. Research data management
  3. An introduction to research data management

An introduction to research data management and its practices

Research data is at the heart of research. Discover definitions of research data, how to create a data management plan and how to publish your research data.

Making the distinction between research data and open data

Research data

Research data is any data used to underpin a research question regardless of its format; e.g. print, digital or physical.

Open data 

Open research data is data made freely accessible, used, modified and shared provided that there is appropriate acknowledgement.

Open data is an enabler of high quality research and a facilitator of innovation and in other words, it safeguards good research practice.

Open data can underpin innovation, for example when researchers with fresh perspectives use data in unexpected ways or when companies use data to help them develop new products. This can lead to substantial economic benefits and help growth.

The benefits of open data

For researchers:

  • increases the impact of research and possibly the citation rates of publications based on open data;
  • supports the verification and replication of research results by other researchers, thus protecting against any hint of fraud;
  • establishes new links to potential collaborators, students and next generation of researchers;
  • enhances the visibility of research projects.

For the research community:

  • it preserves data for future use;
  • provides important teaching resources;
  • reinforces open scientific inquiry and debate.

For the public:

  • it advances science for the benefit of society;
  • promotes innovation through novel perspectives on research data.

For the research funders:

it maximises return on investment by promoting secondary use of data and avoiding duplication of data collection.

Research data management

Research data management is relevant to academics worldwide as:

  • it refers to storage, access and preservation of any data produced to underpin their research.
  • it supports high quality research, while ensuring the reproducibility and the security of data.

Data management plan

Data management plan can make your data FAIR:

  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Interoperable
  • Reusable

What is a data management plan?

It is a statement that describes how you will manage your data during and after the end of your research project. Specifically, it should include information on:

  • Type and volume of data you are planning to collect
  • Documenting and organising the collected data
  • Ethical and legal compliance
  • Selection, long-term storage, preservation and security of data (i.e. backing up data in a secure location)
  • Methods to ensure that action has be taken to avoid data loss
  • Plans for sharing the data and any restrictions if applicable
  • Resources required to deliver your plan

Do I need a research data management plan?

  • It saves time long-term as it helps you plan ahead for your research step-by-step.
  • It helps ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998)
  • It follows City's Framework for Good Practice
  • It helps you manage risk (e.g. data loss).
  • It is a requirement for most UK funders when applying for funding.

A list of funders requiring data management plans are listed under funder policies and online resources below.

Creating a data management plan

Jisc has now created a checklist to help you create a solid RDM plan.

Download the form

On the right hand-side of this page, you can also find the slides from the RDM training that City run in collaboration with Research Consulting that can give you more information on the reasons for undertaking RDM.

An example of a Research Data Management Plan can be found on the ESRC website. You may also find useful DCC’s Checklist for a Data Management Plan.

If you require more information on the Data Management Plans, visit the Digital Curation Centre.


Data management should be costed into research in terms of time and resources. The UK Data service has released a costing tool that can be used to cost data management in the Social Sciences.

It is also important to consider any costs associated with storing, handling and archiving data.

For further advice please contact your school Research Support Service Manager

Funder policies on research data

Researchers are advised to note guidelines produced by funders in relation to open access and research data management prior to starting a grant application.

In addation to City's guidelines, summarised information on funders’ policies is also provided by the Digital Curation Centre.

Funder policies and online resources

Funder Key information Links and other useful facts
EC Horizon 2020 programme
  • The European Commision open data principle: “As open as possible, as closed as necessary.”
  • Data management plan and open data is voluntary but strongly encouraged in Horizon 2020.
  • Applicants can sign up at the application/award stage to be part of an open data pilot. However, there is a right to opt-out to make data open access. The most common reasons for opting-out are protecting privacy, intellectual property rights and conflicts with project’s main objective.
Open Data infographic

Guidelines on implementation of Open Access to scientific publications and research data
Research Councils UK
  • All RCUK grant holders should comply with the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy.
  • Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible.
  • Published results should always include information on how to access the supporting data.
RCUK data policy
  • All EPSRC-funded research publications must include a short statement describing how and on what terms supporting data may be accessed.
  • Data that support ‘published research findings will, by default, be available for scrutiny by others’. However, there may be compelling legal or ethical reasons to restrict access to the data (e.g. personal information).
  • EPSRC-funded research data should be securely preserved for a minimum of 10 years.
  • Appropriately structured metadata describing the research data should be published and made freely available online normally within 12 months of the data being generated.
  • Metadata should always include a persistent digital object identifier.
  • Where data are restricted, metadata should summarise the reasons why and the conditions under which they could be made available.
  • Non-digital data should ‘be stored in a manner which may facilitate it being shared in the event of a valid request for access to the data being received’.
EPSRC data expectations
  • A data management plan is mandatory and has to be submitted as part of the grant application.
  • ESRC grant holders must deposit all data created or repurposed during the lifetime of a grant in a responsible data repository. They must also provide metadata relating to the grant to the UK Data Service within three months of the end of the grant.
ESRC research data policy link title
  • The RCUK policy on open access is applicable in this occasion.
RCUK Data Policy
  • Data Management Plan is mandatory.
  • Data sharing is mandatory for clinical trials & public health interventions.
MRC open research data
  • A Data Management Plan is mandatory.
  • The BBSRC expects all researchers to make research data open with as few restrictions as possible.
BBSRC data sharing policy
  • A data management plan is mandatory at application stage.
  • All successful applicants will be required to produce a detailed data management plan in conjunction with the appropriate NERC Data Centre.
  • All NERC-funded projects must work with the appropriate NERC Data Centre.
NERC data management planning informationNERC data policy
Wellcome Trust
  • A Data Management Plan is mandatory.
  • The Wellcome Trust expects all researchers to make research data open with as few restrictions as possible.
  • Wellcome Trust is also a signatory to the Concordat on Open Research Data.
Wellcome trust policy on data, software and materials management and sharing
  • The NIHR open access policy requires all NIHR researchers to prepare and submit to the NIHR a statement on how underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed.
  • The NIHR and the Department of Health reserve the right to use data or other material from research that it funds for policy development and publicity activities.
  • Any publication of findings or data has to be submitted to the NIHR 28 days before it is due to be published.
NIHR Open Access policy
Royal Society
  • A data management plan is mandatory.
  • There is an expectation to adopt best practice for data sharing via an appropriate and openly available repository.
Royal Society conditions of award in relation to funding schemes

UK data service offers a brief overview of the research data lifecycle: