Research Data Management

Responsible data management takes into consideration the generation, collection, access, use, analysis, disclosure, storage, retention, disposal, sharing and re-use of data and information. Research data is a valuable asset and researchers are required to use good research data management (RDM) practices to protect and maintain it.

Data management should be considered and reviewed in all stages of a research project. Carefully planning and consideration will save project time and ensure that data is not at risk.

The Code recognises that the responsible conduct of research includes the proper management and retention of research data and requires that researchers:

Retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials. Where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference to these by interested parties (R22)

Research Services and Graduate Studies is the central point of contact for researchers, research students and supervisors and will provide information and support for the administration and management; or advice on legal, licensing and contractual aspects of research data. The Research Office provides information on the RDM Guidelines and access to a plan template.

The Research Integrity Unit provides guidance on ethics matters relating to research data and further advice can be provided by a Research Integrity Advisor.

  • Planning a project

    When planning a research project, it's important to consider and incorporate the various aspects, options and requirements for managing research data into your project plan. This will save time and prevent issues in the later stages of the project.

    • Data
      • Will you use existing data or collect your own data?
      • What kind of data will you be collecting? Consider methodologies and the type of data they will produce.
      • How will you manage, describe and store data files?
    • Requirements and obligations
      • Identify regulatory policy obligations, University policy and funding body requirements and incorporate these into your plan.
    • Research impact
      • Data can be an important research output in its own right and availability of data can lead to increased citations of the related publication.
      • Citation of datasets is gaining traction with the emergence of international infrastructure and services.
    • Documentation
      • Funding bodies are more commonly requiring the inclusion of a plan for managing research data for the project in the funding application. Even if not required by the funding body, developing a data management plan is required in order to undertake research at the University and ensures that the researcher and University are aligned with the Code.
  • Start of the project

    At the commencement of a research project, all members of the research team (including external research team members/institutions) should be involved in the discussion to manage research data. The management of research data is ongoing and should be reviewed regularly over the lifecycle of the project.

    Discussing the requirements of data management with the research team and establishing a plan at this early stage will avoid problems arising at a later stage.

    • Intellectual Property (IP)
      • Ownership of intellectual property generated through research is determined by your role at the University. Policy for staff and visitors to the University differs to that for Higher Degree Research (HDR) students. If an HDR student is a member of your research team, please discuss IP with them and contact the Research Office for further advice.
      • Collaborative research projects that involve more than one institution will need to consider ownership of the research data and the ability for research team members to use this in further research. Terms of IP will be included in the research agreement, therefore it is important to discuss before it becomes legally binding.
      • Consider terms and conditions for the re-use of data.
    • Reuse of data
      • If you are sourcing existing data to use in your project, you will need to determine who is the owner of the rights.
      • Identify the terms and conditions of re-use that have been granted by the rights holder/s to assess whether your re-use fits within these.
      • Find and keep a copy of any 'express permission' that the rights-holder has given. If this is not available, you must seek permission from the rights-holder directly.
      • The Library provides training, tools and advice on undertaking a literature review to source potential data.
    • Retention
      • You should be aware of the requirements for data retention. These periods will be guided by funding body requirements and University policy.
    • Ethics and consent
      • Ethical commitments and the consent you seek from your participants will affect what you can do with the data later, so consider potential data sharing and re-use scenarios well before data is collected and acquired.
      • Incorporate data management into your ethics application in the context of privacy, confidentiality and consent, cultural sensitivity and community-based research.
      • Be specific and clear about plans to make data available to other researchers or more broadly.
      • Be explicit in your consent forms about any plans to make data available, who will be able to access the data and how the data would be accessed and potentially re-used.
      • Consider the potential significance of data and possible re-use in follow-up studies or further research before including a timeframe for the destruction of data in your application.
      • There are alternatives to making data openly accessible which may be more appropriate and is still accessible to future researchers and other interested groups.
  • During the project

    During the research project, the priority for managing data will shift to the collection, storage and handling. You will need to choose a durable format for the data, establish secure storage, identify secure transfer options for the data and a method for organising and documenting the data. Appropriate handling of the data during this stage of the research will improve your impact and strengthen the validity of your research results.

    • Format
      • Choose a format that is commonly used or accepted within the discipline.
      • Check if there are standard formats that are recommended by Standards Australia or ISO.
      • Consider and assess the long-term viability of hardware and software used to create and manipulate research data.
      • If software development is part of your research, discuss with the Research Office to ensure that the development, release and licensing of the software follows University policy and procedures.
    • Storage
      • Data storage will be provided by the Division of Information Technology, once you have completed and submitted your Research Data Management plan.
      • All research data should be securely stored on the University network.
      • University network includes the P & S Drives and OneDrive for Business (note that EndNote is not currently compatible with OneDrive).
      • Master data should not be stored on the hard drive of a laptop or desktop, on removable media, flash memory devices or portable hard drives.
      • Physical data should be stored at on-site secure local facilities, managed by your school or centre.
    • Transfer
    • Organise and document
      • Create and maintain sufficient documentation or metadata to enable research data to be:
        • identified, discovered and associated with its owners and creators;
        • linked to other related data or publications;
        • contextualised in time and space;
        • have the quality of data assessed and research results validated.
      • Choose and agree on the use of a metadata standard (ie widely used Dublin Core). If you require assistance deciding on a standard, the UK's Digital Curation Centre provides examples of metadata standards used by discipline.
      • File naming convention of digital files developed and agreed upon by the research team before research data is created.
      • Identifiers for a data object should be unique and persistent. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is emerging as a standard for publicly available datasets.
      • Use of an existing controlled vocabulary where possible, or adaption of an existing standard rather than creating one from scratch.
  • End of the project

    As the research project winds down, it is time to consider depositing your research data (and subsequently research publications) into an open-access digital archive. CRO - Charles Sturt University Research Output is an institutional repository which showcases all outputs created by University staff and students. Using CRO can serve to validate and promote your research whilst also increasing its impact.

    • Repository data sharing
      • Is your data shareable, are there implications if you do make it publicly available?
      • The library manages CRO and provides access to guides and training. Queries can be sent to or via the contact page.
    • Licensing data for reuse
      • Decide the terms and conditions of reuse of your data:
        • Use Copyright Act - all rights are reserved;
        • Standard open licence - some rights reserved;
        • Restricted licences and custom reuse agreements;
        • Copyright waivers and public domain dedications - no rights reserved.
      • Creative Commons provides information and licensing for reuse of data.
    • Data destruction
      • When the required retention period has come to an end, you may need to destroy data to meet ethical requirements or because you determine the data no longer has any value.
      • Prior to destroying data, you must contact the Manager, University Records or the University's Regional Archive to discuss requirements and eligibility.
      • The University has policies covering Records Management:
    • Exit Planning (Leaving Charles Sturt)
      • You must not remove master copies of any working data that belongs to the University or to a third party with which the University has an agreement.
      • Before leaving the University, you should contact the Research Office to make arrangements for access to the data for the research project and any documentation relating to it.

Useful Links

Intellectual Property Policy

Research Data Management Policy

Research Data Management form.

The Library’s guide to Research Data Management provides information on preparation, managing and publishing data. The guide includes resources such as templates and links to external expertise.

The NHMRC's Management of Data and Information in Research guide provides guidance on researcher expectations and requirements.

Quantitative Consulting Unit (QCU) - is a statistics support service that is part of the Research Office.

Spatial Data Analysis Network (SPAN) is a research support unit within the Research Office and primarily supports research undertaken by academic staff and higher degree (HDR) students.

Australian National Data Service

QUT Data Management Planning Tool

UK Data Service - Organising data

Purdue University Data Management Plan (DMP)Self-Assessment Tool

Creative Commons

Adapted from Best practice guidelines for researchers: Managing research data and primary materials by Griffith University ( which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.