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Understanding Data Management

Data management

Covers many topics that address the handling of and caring for information generated throughout the research process. We may even extend this concept to include all the ways we plan to deal with any scholarly work we produce.

Planning touches all aspects of your research lifecycle.

It begins with the planning and design and continues with aspects of sharing and preservation post project.

Basic Research Data Life Cycle with Management Actions

Research Lifecycle with Data Management Actions

Research Data in Context

During research, the context of data creation is essential to understanding the content. We can loosely define research data as recorded bits of information that have been collected, observed, generated or created to answer research questions or validate findings. It is often digital,  but takes many forms. We provide basic management guidance, but specific practices rely heavily on subject matter, data characteristics, and disciplinary community practices.


Data Characteristics

Consider these aspects of content you generate.

Is your data...

  • Active (dynamic, constantly changing) or Inactive (static, one event, complete)
  • Open (public, for further use) or Proprietary (for monetary gain)
  • Non-identifiable (no human subjects) or Sensitive (containing personal information)
  • Preservable (to save long term)  or To discard in 3 years (not for keeping)
  • Shareable (ready for reuse) or Private (not able to be shared, not for reuse)

These characteristics are contingent upon subject, format, and content and will guide your management choices.

Source: Four rising areas of concern in Research Data Management  by Andrea Chiarelli

University of Houston Data Management and Sharing Policy

Policy Highlights

  • All university research projects require a formalized, written data management plan.  

  • Data must be archived in a controlled, secure environment in a way that safeguards the data.

  • The archive must be accessible by scholars analyzing the data, and available to collaborators.

  • Investigators are expected to share data with researchers within a reasonable time frame.

See the entire policy - Data Management and Sharing

Need a Data Management Plan? The DMPtool has a custom UH template for research without external funding mandates. See Writing a Plan for more information on using the tool.

University of Houston Data Retention Policy

Research data generated while individuals are pursuing research studies as faculty, staff, or students of the University of Houston, and data generated by visiting scientists utilizing the facilities of the University of Houston, are to be retained by the institution for a period of three (3) years after submission of the final report on the research project for which the data were collected, unless a longer retention period is specified by the sponsor. 

See the entire policy - Data Retention Policy