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Research Data Services


If you are conducting human subjects research or seeking grant funding, you will have to answer specific questions about your plans for data management and sharing. Below are some general questions to consider that you will likely have to address in a formal plan that will be submitted to a compliance office and/or funder.

The Data

  • Is the data being generated de novo, or is it being generated from another study/experiment?
  • How much data will there be? (megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, etc.)
  • Will/how much will it grow/change?
  • What type/form of data is being produced? (e.g., numeric, image, geospatial, etc.)
  • What are the file formats? Sometimes it is necessary or more convenient to work in a discouraged file format, but please save final work in a preferred format when your project is completed.
Preferred Format Discouraged Format
.csv (comma separated values) .xls (Excel)
.txt (plain text) .doc (Word)
.pdf (Adobe PDF) .ppt (PowerPoint)
.tif/.tiff (TIFF) .psd (Photoshop)
.mp4 (MPEG-4) .mov (Apple Quicktime)

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Who is responsible for collecting the data? (e.g., PI, lab, University, consortium, etc.)
  • Who is responsible for data integrity and management?
  • Who is the funder?
  • Does the funder have special data management requirements, including the need for a data management plan?

Access and Use

  • Is there a metadata or ontology standard for describing your data in your community or University?  
    • If not, is there a metadata standard that you’ve used in the past that you’re comfortable with?
  • Are there special tools, software, etc., needed to create, read, process the data?  
    • How are those tools, software, etc., managed and upgraded?
  • Are there any special privacy or security requirements (e.g., personnel data, human subject data, high-security data)?


  • Do you plan to publish the data (when and where)?
  • Who do you want to use it now and later (your lab, the University, North America, the world)?
  • Are there any sharing requirements from the funder?
  • How do you plan to handle copyright or data re-use by others?

Storage and Preservation

  • How do you plan to document your project?
    • What are your plans for managing the documentation (e.g., what tools, software, etc., are you using)?
  • How long should the data, accompanying software, and documentation be retained (e.g., 3-5 years, 5-20 years, permanently)?
    • How do you plan to ensure long-term access?
  • Is there a data repository for your community?
    • Do you plan to store your data there?
    • Where else do you plan to store the data (e.g., inCurateND, the University’s institutional repository)?
    • How often would you like your data backed up?
    • Should it be stored in several locations?


  • What are the estimated costs of obtaining, preparing, documenting and archiving the data?
  • Will all of these costs be covered by the funder?
    • If not, how will these costs be covered?