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Research data across the lifecycle

An overview of considerations, resources and tools for working with data in your research projects

Why share data?

There are several possible reasons for wanting to share - make globally and openly accessible, or with some restrictions if necessary - research or administrative data:

  • To enable replicability and openness of research - for the benefit of science, other researchers, the public, policymakers, journalists, students, ...
  • To potentially increase citations of the publication(s) based on the research data  (see: Sharing Detailed Research Data Is Associated with Increased Citation Rate)
  • To potentially increase the impact of one's research by making its data available to a broader audience than would read, or could even access, the publication(s) based on the data.

One way for AU faculty to share data is to submit it to the AU Digital Research Archive - more on that below.

 

Submitting data to the AU Digital Research Archive

AU researchers can specify the AU Digital Research Archive (DRA.american.edu), which has a collection for faculty research, as a vehicle for sharing and archiving their data in a data management plan.  The AU DRA, launched in the summer of 2015, is based on the Islandora platform, and hosted and operated for AU by the IT group of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC).  The current dataset size limit is 2 GB per file.

Since many data management plans require addressing which metadata standard(s) of the researcher's community will be employed in data sharing, it is noteworthy that the AU DRA uses the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) for all digital objects it hosts, with the MODS metadata for datasets specifically mapped to elements of the DataCite Metadata Schema that are of specific relevance to datasets, such as file format and geographic location (if applicable). These metadata elements, then, are part of the AU DRA platform; additionally, researchers may submit, along with datasets, files containing metadata for them (for example, DDI XML files created with any of the available DDI Tools). See also: Disciplinary Metadata.

‚ÄčAU researchers can submit datasets to AU DRA using the Faculty Research Deposit form. For submitted file formats, they should consider whether these are suitable for long-term usability and software-independence, as opposed to being in a proprietary format that is only readable with specific software (which may become unavailable or change what file formats it supports).  For guidance, see, for example: Sustainability of Digital Formats: Datasets: Quality and Functionality Factors and Format Descriptions for Dataset Formats by the Library of Congress. (AU library personnel will generally not modify or convert researcher-submitted datasets.)  See also tools for working with research data.

Files submitted to AU DRA can, upon the submitter's request, have an embargo date applied to them, so that they do not actually become publicly available until that future date.