In the next section, we will guide you through the steps in implementing open data in your research. The focus here is on three steps in the process: plan, describe, and preserve and share. The diagram below summarizes the steps and describes them in more detail in the remainder of this module.
Before even collecting your data, you need to plan. Each stage of the data life cycle should be considered when planning how you will manage your data and make it accessible. A Data Management Plan (DMP) will address questions about the type of data to be collected and how that data will be stored, shared, and preserved for future access. There are templates such as the DMP Assistant, a tool that aids in preparing a plan guiding you through each step. There are institutional instances of the DMP Assistant including one at UBC.
Like fulfilling open access and open data requirements, it is not uncommon for research funders to request a DMP to be submitted with the funding application demonstrating how the data will be handled at each stage of the data life cycle.
Upholding open principles and fulfilling grant requirements by making your data open requires the following:
- Metadata to describe your data with an accompanying well-formatted readme file
- A license that lets others know how the data can be reused
- Deposit into a repository that will preserve the data and publish information about the data so that others can find it
Ideally, you will prepare a data management plan so the other pieces of creating, storing, and sharing your data are known. It is relatively easy to put a dataset on a website or upload it into a project in OSF, but messy or poorly managed data does not help with its reuse and you should prepare that data to be deposited into a repository designed to hold data and share information about that data. A data management plan helps you articulate how you will manage your data at each stage from its collection to analysis to preservation, encouraging you to work through the process of managing your data before you start collecting it. This front load of work will save you endless headaches in the long run.
Your institution may provide guidance on data management plans and provide a template such as the DMP Assistant or the DMP Tool.
- Best Practice: Plan – Learn more about the planning stage of the data life cycle from DataONE.
- Data Management Plan Exemplar: Digital Humanities
- Data Management Plan Exemplar: Mixed Methods
- Tidy-ing Your Data: Simple Steps for Reproducible Research presented by Jeanette Clark from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis