Why should you share your research data?
Preserving digital data is more complex than just saving it on a hard drive or a server, and much more complex than storing paper copies. Digital data can often degrade faster, as computer and software systems update. It is smart to submit your final data to a trusted repository that is equipped to effectively preserve your data, and funders will likely ask you for details about your plan for preserving or archiving your data.
What data should be preserved?
It’s rarely likely that you’ll need to preserve all of the data created over the course of a research project. Rather, you’ll want to prioritize preserving data that cannot be re-created or produced, data that is costly to reproduce, data of one-time events, experimental data, etc. You’ll need to preserve data that is needed to validate your research findings, in accordance with funding agency requirements.
How long is “long-term” preservation?
Many funders want a DMP to include a plan for “long-term preservation” without specifying how far into the future data needs to be preserved. It can be easier to provide a minimum amount of time that you plan on preserving your data than a maximum: a good rule of thumb to follow when determining a minimum amount of time is to consider the amount of time it takes for a paper to be cited and then to add 5 years. Always make sure that the time period that you commit to is acceptable to your peers and follows the funding agency’s requirements. Institutions, publishers, and repositories may have a minimum retention period to follow, as well.
Who Is Responsible for Preserving Data?
The most responsible and reliable way to preserve your data is to seek out a data custodian, like a data repository. When possible, you should deposit your data in a repository that provides curation services, rather than just preservation services. Curated data is more valuable, easier to locate and reuse, and more highly cited. Curation activities include verifying the integrity and quality of data, migrating data formats, and creating descriptive records for data.
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