The importance of adequate research data management

Written by Inge Slouwerhof working at the central RDM support team of Radboud University Nijmegen.

The role of research data management within the scientific process grows increasingly larger during the last years. Although, data management is not a goal in itself: the publication of scientific findings dependents heavily on proper and adequate data management. Therefore, in accordance with the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (ALLEA, 2017) research data can also be seen as research output, just like the scientific publications themselves. Science funders and publishers share this vision also. More and more funders require data management plans for funded research. Publishers start requiring open access publishing of datasets at the end of the research project. All these developments are for the purpose of scientific integrity.

So, the acknowledgement for the necessity of research data management has been developed over the past years. However, the translation towards hands-on standards and protocols for researchers are often not (yet) developed. Part of the cause for this is the wide variety of research methods and data types making it very difficult to standardize research data management.

Research data management contributes to scientific integrity on different levels. When adequate data management is carried out, research data is accurate, complete, authentic and reliable. The risk of losing or damaging data is minimized as well as the risk of unauthorized access. In addition, research data can be shared with others with minimal effort and others are easily able to verify the results based on the data.