Data management includes all the activities researchers do to organize, describe, preserve, and share their data. Good data management supports the research lifecycle, from planning for data collection to depositing your data set in a repository.
Sharing your research data allows for greater visibility and recognition of your work. Sharing your data also furthers scholarly inquiry by allowing others to explore your data and use it in novel ways.
Both public and private funders and journals increasingly require data to be shared for reproducibility and transparency. As technology has made it easier to share digital files, data management has become an important practice for researchers to follow.
If your external funding agency has an open data mandate, we want to help you craft a data management plan to manage, preserve, and publish your research data. If you do not have a federal funding mandate, but are collecting data as part of the original research for your undergraduate or graduate thesis, we also want to help you preserve and publish your data. We work with everyone from undergraduate researchers to faculty scholars.
- Create a Data Management Plan
A data management plan (DMP) is a written document that describes the data you expect to acquire or generate during the course of a research project, how you will manage, describe, analyze, and store those data, and what mechanisms you will use at the end of your project to share and preserve your data.
You may have already considered some or all of these issues with regard to your research project, but writing them down helps you formalize the process, identify weaknesses in your plan, and provide you with a record of what you intend(ed) to do.
Data management is best addressed in the early stages of a research project, but it is never too late to develop a data management plan.
The library strongly advises the use of DMPTool, a free, online tool that takes you step-by-step through the process of creating a DMP. DMPTool has templates that meets the standards of more than 30 funding agencies.
Alternatively, you may employ our Data Management Plan Template to draft your DMP. If you opt for the template, your funder may require you to address more topics than covered in our template.
Additionally, you may find the following resources useful for creating plans:
- Consult with the Library
Once you have created a draft of your DMP, we strongly advise that you request a Data Management Consultation. During this consultation, you’ll meet with a librarian to review your plan and learn about options for long-term preservation in UTC Scholar.
During your data management consultation, librarians will work with you to identify an appropriate repository to archive your data. The UTC Library supports data preservation and sharing in UTC Scholar, the university’s institutional repository, or UTC Digital Collections.
- Research Data in UTC Scholar
If you are planning to publish the final version of your data in UTC Scholar, the university's institutional repository, please review Submission Guidelines for Research and Data as you draft your DMP or proposal. You may also consider adding the following language to your DMP:
A long-term data sharing and preservation plan will be used to store and make publicly accessible the data beyond the life of the project. The data will be deposited into UTC Scholar, the institutional repository on the grantees' campus. Deposit in UTC Scholar will ensure that the research community has long-term access to the data and that best practices in digital preservation will safeguard the files. Best practices include off-site hourly and daily backups of files in a redundant storage cluster with regular back ups to a commercial cloud service that performs regular, systematic data integrity checks. In accordance with UTC Scholar practices, the (de-identified, if applicable) data will be accompanied by the appropriate documentation, metadata, and code to facilitate reuse and provide the potential for interoperability with similar data sets.
UTC Scholar promotes visibility of your research by pushing metadata to harvesters and aggregators such as SHARE, EBSCO Open Dissertations, and WorldCat. Between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, 1,497 works in UTC Scholar were downloaded 183,812 times by site visitors from 10,334 institutions in 205 countries.
More information about the way your data is preserved in UTC Scholar is available from Safeguarding Your Content with Digital Commons authored by the vendor that supports our institutional repository, bepress.
Please note that once researchers submit data to UTC Scholar there is a Library-mediated process to make changes. We recommend submitting final, reviewed copies that are ready for online publication to avoid mistakenly posting incomplete or unfinished work.
- Research Data in UTC Digital Collections
The Library's Special Collections partners with students, faculty, and community groups to grow our Digital Collections to foster opportunities for community engagement, exhibition, experiential learning, and applied research methods. If you have coordinated with the Director of Special Collections to publish your data in UTC Digital Collections, the digital library management by Special Collections, you may consider adding the following language to your DMP or proposal.
Digital masters and derivatives are stored by the Library at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) on a Synology storage array located in the UTC Library with a geographically separated Synology storage array at the Campus Data Center. Configured as RAID 5 and with the Synology Server software, data is distributed evenly among the drives with two spare disk drives with automatic swap capability in case of drive failure. All files written to the Library Data Center are backed up daily at 2:00 AM (02:00 ET) utilizing a block-incremental backup plan, which scans for any changes made since the last backup and performs backups with that information. Fifty backup versions are retained with an integrity check performed every Sunday at 5:00 AM (05:00 ET) on the data contained on the Backup Server at the Campus Data Center. In the case that full or partial recovery is needed, the storage array may be recovered from any of the currently available versions of the backup.
UTC Digital Collections promotes visibility of your research by pushing metadata to harvesters and aggregators such as Digital Public Library of America, ArchiveGrid, and WorldCat. Between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, 3,664 site visitors from 50 countries viewed 118,177 pages in 6,335 sessions.
Please note that researchers are unable to submit data directly to UTC Digital Collections. Special Collections works closely with collaborators to ensure that data is digitally captured in accordance with specifications defined by the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative.
Examples of past collaborations include the following digital library and data curation projects that meet the requirements expressed our Collection Development Policy:
- Data Best Practices: Obtain Permission
If you are planning to archive media, such as interviews, webinars, and other recordings, we advise the use of the following release form templates in addition to appropriate IRB approval:
At the conclusion of your project, we recommend that you plan to archive the original hard copy of each signed release form collected with the Library. This ensures that releases are stored in a secure environment and curated according to leading practices in Special Collections.
- Data Best Practices: Equipment and Software
For projects that will result in the creation of audio/video recordings, we recommend purchasing the same equipment and software as the Library's Studio. This ensures that you have an on campus resource for your hardware and software.
- Data Best Practices: File Formats
The likelihood of long-term preservation of content and functionality is higher when submitted formats possess the following characteristics:
- complete and open documentation platform-independence
- non-proprietary (vendor-independent)
- no lossy or proprietary compression
- no embedded files, programs or scripts
- no full or partial encryption
- no password protection
Below is a list of file formats with a high probability of long-term preservation of content and functionality. We recommend that researchers depositing works in UTC Scholar or any other repository, submit file formats with a high probability for long-term preservation, and consider converting file formats with a lower probability of long-term preservation to formats with a higher probability. Email [email protected] for help selecting file formats and with file conversion.
- Plain text (encoding: USASCII, UTF-8, UTF-16 with BOM) (*.txt)
- PDF/A-1 (ISO 19005-1) (*.pdf)
- TIFF (uncompressed) (*.tif)
- JPEG2000 (lossless) (*.jp2)
- SVG (no Java script binding) (*.svg)
- AIFF (PCM) (*.aif, *.aiff)
- WAV (PCM) (*.wav)
- AVI (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.avi)
- QuickTime Movie (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.mov)
- Comma Separated Values (*.csv)
- Delimited Text (*.txt)
- PDF/A-1 (ISO 19005-1) (*.pdf)