When preparing a new research project, planning in advance is crucial: it is important to think about the different phases your data will go through during and after your project.

Writing a Data Management Plan (DMP), a formal document that outlines what you will do with your data during and after a research project, can be really helpful and can facilitate the retrieval and understanding and  reuse of your data in the future. Importantly, remember to comply with FAIR principles whilst writing your DMP.

Remember also to check research data use regulations that influence your project, check the ethical and legal aspects here.

To ensure a good collection and organization of your research data, make sure that you carry out a quality control. It is essential that you prepare an exhaustive README file before you publish research data: the file will allow users accessing your data to fully understand the project in terms of (methods of) data collection, time period, key reference points of the data. Importantly, as you collect and organize data you should also keep account of the adequate metadata supporting your data and the most suitable format to use. You can collect harmonized and persistent documentation by using tools like electronic lab notebook, for example. Similarly, it is necessary that data is easily findable by using simple rules on: file naming, file organization and file versioning.

During the research work, it is significant to keep track of the data being used: this applies both to the data generated by the project and to the data produced by others that are reused for research. Significantly, it is necessary to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access by using proper infrastructures and setting up adequate processes (indeed, when using or generating personal data this process is a legal obligation). Appropriate storage and security measures help prevent data loss and leaks. Ensure that you avoid keeping everything in just one place: it is preferable to have some backup copies.

Make sure that you consider preserving data in open repositories in the long-term. Usually, it is advised to consider at least 10 years: this allows for reproducibility and reuse; and it may also be required explicitly by funders or publishers.

Sharing data allows researchers to build upon your work, it enables meta-analyses, increases its visibility, and is increasingly becoming part of funders’ requirements. Before uploading data to an open access repository, ensure that you decide on the level of access that you grant to users, whether fully open or restricted, depending on the license applied.

Here you can read more on How to find a FAIR compliant data repository suited to your needs (domain-specific or generic repository, for example). Moreover, the University of Milan acknowledges the importance of data management for scientific research  quality and integrity and adopts the highest standards for data collection, storage and preservation, providing its researchers with the FAIR repository Data@UNIMI to archive and publish their datasets.

Image reusable under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Image reusable under CC BY-SA 4.0 license