Next week is Love your data week. It is an international week which aims to shed light on research data management issues. It is similar to the international open access week in October. At the moment there are a number of activities happening in different settings as research data management is a topic high on the agenda for universities. When research data management is discussed it should not be forgotten that there are (at least) two aspects to managing research data: archiving and making it openly available. These aspects should be regarded different. The main goal is to manage research data in more systematic manner by researchers and by universities to prevent research misconduct and to some extend double work. Research misconduct is prevented through making research data available and citing it in a research publication, e.g. an article. In other words, research process is made more transparent. Here is an example of an article citing data.
A benefit of managing research data more systematically is to facilitate networking or exchange between researchers. The argument is that if research data is well documented and well described it is easier to find and thus the possibility that someone interested in the same area of research will contact a research with specific research data for possible collaboration. Another benefit is that research data management will ensure longer life for research data. Researchers move and technology develops and therefore research data may become corrupt in the long turn, e.g. it might not be possible to read digital files. Just think of tape recorders. How many tape players are there? Furthermore, the idea is that researchers receiving public funding should make their research data publicly available. However, the public might not be trained in research methodology and can thus draw faulty conclusions of based on the research data.
Those researchers who use qualitative methods are also questioning whether other researchers actually will be able to use their qualitative data. It might be difficult to anonymize qualitative data, e.g. interviews. Furthermore, there are ethical issues to consider. For example, a question whether it is ethical to use qualitative data gathered with one focus to answer questions with another focus is being considered by many researchers using qualitative methods. Another problem is that universities are expected to collaborate with private organizations. In this case it is the government regulations and private organizations’ possble goal to apply for patent might be difficult to mix. In other words, research data management it is not an easy topic.
During March a number of librarians, archivists and the lawyers from University of Borås will be attending a course in research data management offered by SND, Swedish national data service. They have during number of years worked with research data. The goal of the course is that librarians, archivists and lawyers will have knowledge to assist researchers with questions regarding e.g. research data management plans.
During next week we will publish a couple of posts about research data here in the blog.