There are two sides to research data management: you can be managing the process, or just enjoying its benefits as a consumer. This step focuses on your role as a data user and should help you understand why research data management is important. As a data user, you can find suitable data by visiting disciplinary, generalist or institutional repositories. These normally allow you to apply filters and may offer the option to download the data. Alternatively, you might find data by following links in an article. In some cases, you may have to contact the author and/or seek permission to use a certain dataset (e.g. ethical approval). If this is the case, you will have to account for extra time in your project plan. Note that all of the above is enabled by good research data management practices, including documentation, metadata and the use of digital object identifiers.
When reusing someone else’s data, you need to be methodical, as there will be (or should be) terms and conditions attached to it. A solid approach is to:
- Make sure the licence applied by the author(s) is suitable for your purposes
- Respect the authors’ intellectual property
- Cite the data, if required by the licence (although we recommend always citing your sources as a good practice)
- Share any new data you might generate using the original authors’ work in accordance with the licence they chose
You might become a data re-user to verify someone else’s results. This is always permitted once you get access to a dataset and you should get in touch with authors should replication be impossible.