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What are research data?

By Myriam Fellous-Sigrist, on 15 September 2015

Research data are the original sources or material that you have created or collated to conduct your research project. They can be digital or non-digital. The response to your research question is based on the analysis of these research data.

The following definition can be read in UCL Research Data Policy:

“Data are facts, observations or experiences on which an argument or theory is constructed or tested. Data may be numerical, descriptive, aural or visual. Data may be raw, abstracted or analysed, experimental or observational. Data include but are not limited to: laboratory notebooks; field notebooks; primary research data (including research data in hardcopy or in computer readable form); questionnaires; audiotapes; videotapes; models; photographs; films; test responses. Research collections may include slides; artefacts; specimens; samples.”

Your research funder may have its own definition of research data, check in our up-to-date list of funders.

Good practices in managing your research data will help you to comply with legal, ethical, institutional and funders’ requirements. Planning ahead for Research Data Management, by using a Data Management Plan for instance, will allow you to minimize risks, save time and ensure the long-term preservation of your data so that they can be re-used (if appropriate) by other researchers. Research Data Management is becoming increasingly used as a means to raise awareness of research projects, improve their visibility and data citation.