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CamGuides: Managing your Study Resources

Manage your data early

Stationery (pens, post-its, folders) all neatly organised on a deskIf you will be working with data, either your own or others', during your Master's degree then you may need Research Data Management (RDM). This is a catch-all term for the organisation, storage, preservation and sharing of data through the lifecycle of a project and beyond.

There is a huge amount of support available to you in Cambridge if you manage data as part of your course. The Office of Scholarly Communication at the University Library has a whole team dedicated to Data Management, and you can learn more about them, and the support offered, on their website.

Research data management is a complex issue, but done correctly from the start, could save you a lot of time and hassle at the end of the project

- Research Data Management team, Office of Scholarly Communication

But why manage data, and what kinds of data need to be managed?

Managing your data is good academic practice - it will make you more efficient, organised and will ensure that your data is backed up. This might help you to avoid errors, improve the quality of your analysis, as well as allow your research to be replicated. The University of Cambridge strongly recommends that you consider data management, and if your course is funded then this might be part of the requirements of the funding body.

Data is not discipline-specific, and might include (but is not limited to):

  • responses to surveys
  • notebooks
  • images
  • measurements from experiments or laboratory equipment
  • samples
  • software or code
  • recordings (either video or audio)

 

Core elements of RDM

Develop a Data Management Plan

Starting your research with a data management plan is strongly recommended. The plan should consider the entire life cycle of the data and might include:

  • the types of data that will be created
  • the standards that will be used with the data and how the data will be described (i.e. the metadata)
  • the ways in which the data will be accessed or shared
  • the policies for the reuse of data
  • how the data will be stored and archived

There is much more information available on the Research Data Management website There are also several checklists available for what might be included in a data management plan. See, for example:

 

Organise and back-up your data

Taking the time to set up a consistent, meaningful and sensible file and folder structure on your computer in order to store the data you generate is extremely important. This includes using consistent vocabulary, including revision dates in file names, and sharing these conventions if working collaboratively.

You should also ensure that you have an effective back-up system in place so that your data is secure should anything happen to your computer. More information about organising and backing up your information is available on CamGuides here.

 

Learn about the support and guidance available to you

The Research Data Management team, part of the Office of Scholarly Communication at the University Library, offer comprehensive and expert support on all elements of data management and should be your first port of call with any queries related to data. More information about the team and this support is available here. Your subject or department library may also be able to advise on queries relating to this.

Across the university (and beyond), support and more information is also widely available. Here are some recommendations:

Image credits

CC0 by Tim Gouw via Unsplash