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UMass Amherst Libraries

Managing Your Data

Take care of the products of your research -- the tips here will help your work be available long into the future!

Review special concerns

something something special concerns

Use the tabs below to learn more about: 

  • Addressing special concerns around data. Sometimes, you need to take special care of your data to mitigate risks when sharing. 
  • Reporting out on research products. Data is important to share -- and so are other products related to your research, like white papers, presentations, and outreach activities. 
  • Supporting open science, and how you can advocate for the democratization of science. 

Review special concerns

Describe concerns around sharing sensitive or confidential data, and how these issues will be mitigated. 

In some cases, you will need to address special concerns around data. This is especially true when writing a data management plan: if you are working with data that needs special protection, you will need to outline how you are protecting that data. This includes protection from loss and unauthorized access. Remember, funding agencies ultimately want you to share the research and data they are paying for, so statements that the data cannot be shared are viewed with a great deal of criticism.

This being said, there are reasons to restrict access to data. Reasons include confidentiality, privacy concerns, or certain protections (e.g., locations of endangered species, local cultural artifacts, data about vulnerable populations like indigenous communities, etc.). In many cases, you can still share data with restrictions. This will help you meet the stipulations set out by your funding agency, while still enabling you to share data.  

For example, some repositories offer gated entry to certain data types -- meaning, individuals need to have grant funding and a series of credentials in order to use data. Memorandums of Understanding can be ways to make sure your data is being used ethically. 

You can also take certain steps in order to share your data openly, including anonymizing your data, or sharing the processed, group-level data, instead of subject- or participant-level data. 


Resources: 


Questions to think about: 

  • Can unauthorized access to your data cause harm to individuals? 
  • Can unauthorized access to your data cause harm to your lab?
  • Can unauthorized access to your data cause harm to the University?
  • Does disclosure of the data violate any laws or agency regulations? (e.g., HIPAA, DOE?)
  • Are there certain regulations you have to abide by in order to use or share your data?

Further reading:

Incorporate reporting out on research products as part of your workflow.

Reporting out in the form of articles and publications is the standard method of sharing your discoveries with the world. Increasingly, sharing your data and other research outputs -- and sharing them openly -- is of great importance. This can be more intensely true in fields that can have direct benefits on the public, like the research done by public health scholars. 


Resources:


Questions to think about: 

  • How frequently are you required to report out on your research outputs? 
  • What information will you need to complete your reports?
    • Are there templates or forms that exist that help you complete your reports?
  • Will you need to create a separate report at the end of your project? 
    • Can you design intermittent reports that meet the needs for your end-of-project report-out? 
  • How will you tie the products of your current project to new projects? (e.g., NSF wants you to report out on products of research in a new proposal)
  • Do you have a plan for reporting out via other venues, like social media platforms? 
    • This may tie into your broader impacts for certain grants. 

Activity: 

Template for reporting out on research activities. Use the template, below, or create your own. This can be a file stored in your project folder, updated as necessary. Be sure to include gray literature, data, and other methods you use to report out on your work!


Further reading:

Share your ideas, and incorporate processes that improve the transparency and reproducibility of your work. 

Supporting open science can take a variety of forms: 

  • Share your work on platforms that openly disseminate work.
  • Use standardized or open data formats to improve long-term use. 
  • Version control your work.
  • Commit to only publishing in open access journals, or practice self-depositing work in an open repository, like ScholarWorks. 
  • Use open source software. 

Open science is a movement that pushes against the commercialization of scientific knowledge. By taking steps to dismantle the hold for-profit publishers have on the outputs of research, you can help democratize science and help fulfill the promise of scholarly inquiry to benefit all -- not just those with extensive budgets and large library systems. 


Questions to think about:

  • Where do you publish? 
    • Do you regularly publish with journals that are openly accessible to all?
    • Do you regularly publish with journals that require significant subscription fees, limiting their reach? Note that libraries often pay thousands, if not millions, of dollars for access to academic journals. 
  • How do you share your work?
    • Articles are one way to share what you are doing.
    • Other venues of dissemination include using a research lifecycle platform, blog posts, tweeting, conferences, or sharing your negative or null results.
  • How do you set up your work to facilitate reuse?
  • What opportunities do you have to work with the community?
    • Open science provides new opportunities to work with our communities by breaking down barriers to access. Projects can benefit from additional workers, new points of view, or recombining information in novel ways. 

Further reading: