Organize, Describe, Preserve, and Share
Research Data Management and Sharing
Northwestern University researchers receive services and support through every stage of the research data lifecycle. A collaborative partnership among Northwestern IT’s Research Computing and Data Services, Galter Health Sciences Library, University Libraries and Office for Research ensures support resources are available—from planning to publication and beyond.
Research data management encompasses all the practices researchers perform to care for their research data, including organizing, describing, preserving, and sharing.
According to Northwestern University’s research data policy, the University as an institution and Northwestern researchers share the responsibility for managing research data (Section 1.0: Ownership and Responsibility).
- All researchers who produce and work with research data (including faculty, students, postdocs, and staff) are considered data stewards responsible for the day-to-day work necessary to maintain research data.
- Principal Investigators (PIs) supervise the work of the other data stewards and are responsible for following funder, publisher, and institutional requirements.
- Northwestern University, as an institution, is responsible for protecting the rights of researchers to their data as well as intellectual property rights.
- PIs and the University share the responsibility of maintaining the confidentiality of research data, where appropriate, and complying with applicable state and federal laws and regulations.
Research data management occurs throughout the research data lifecycle. These tasks include:
- Preparing for data collection by writing a data management plan
- Choosing appropriate data storage to keep data secure and accessible during the project
- Making your data publicly available, archiving it, or deleting it at the end of your project
Data management has become especially important. Funding agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Department of Energy (DOE), and publishers like Nature, Science, and PLOS now have data management and sharing policies with which researchers must comply. Data management plans will be required by all United States Federal funding agencies soon because of the Public Access Memo issued by The White House in August 2022. Complying with these policies is much easier when you integrate good data management practices throughout your research process.
Integrating good data management practices also makes your research more reliable and impactful in the following ways.
- Thinking about your data workflows and how to document important contextual information before you collect data saves time and frustration later.
- Making your workflows more reproducible will make responding to reviewer comments less frustrating.
- Sharing your data along with your publications can increase the chances of them getting cited.
Because of the variety of data produced on campus, we cannot answer all your research data management questions on one page. However, Northwestern IT, Galter Health Sciences Library, Northwestern University Libraries and Office for Research all have staff who can help researchers manage their data. If you have any questions, please email us, and we will work with you to address your data management needs and questions.COntact a Research Data Expert