Research data management and sharing

Making research data open and accessible.

How to manage your data

The majority of funding bodies view publicly funded research data as a public good produced in the public interest. UKRI (formerly RCUK), Wellcome, and Universities UK published the Concordat on Open Research Data (PDF), which describes ten key principles for ensuring that your research data is “openly discoverable, accessible, intelligible, assessable, and usable” by others.

Making research data open and accessible brings significant benefits, both to the research community and the society which hosts and funds it. The Open Research team is here to support research data management as an essential building block of good research practice and a pathway to increasing the exposure and impact of our research. From planning to preservation, we help researchers make their data more open and transparent throughout the research lifecycle.

The Open Research team support our researchers to:

Create robust data management plans

Data management plans ensure a project’s research data is created, managed, documented, shared, and preserved in a way that enables easy replication and reuse. It is the roadmap from planning to preservation for the data produced by a project.

We provide advice, training and guidance to ensure our researchers develop data management plans that address the following.

During the project lifetime:

  • What data will be collected/created? (Types, formats, size)
  • What existing data can be reused?
  • How data will be organised and documented for future use?
  • How data security will be managed? (storage, backup, access for collaborators, and access controls)
  • Who will be responsible for each of these elements/activities?

After the project ends: 

  • What data will be shared? Where and when will it be released?
  • Who will have access to the data? Under what license?
  • What data will need to be preserved? Where and for how long?
  • Is there any physical data that needs to be preserved? How will this be done?

During and after:

  • Whether any equipment, staff time, or software need to be costed to help manage, share or preserve the data

When you are ready to start writing your DMP, you can set one up using DMPOnline.  DMPOnline is a tool with templates for all the major funders, with specific guidance based on funders’ policies. If your funder hasn’t provided a template, or there is no funder, just use the generic template, which also has plenty of advice.

All you need to do is

  1. Sign in to DMPOnline using your University of Surrey credentials
  2. Click on “Create plan” and select your funder on the dropdown (if your funder isn’t listed, or you don’t have one, please use the generic template)

Once you’ve set up your plan, you can share it with collaborators. When it’s finished, you can export it to use in your grant application.

Verification of results and reuse are the two motivating purposes for sharing and preserving data. Accordingly, most data is shared in support of a publication or at the end of a project. Some funders outline specific requirements about when to share data and how long it should be preserved. To make data more discoverable and reusable we support our researchers to:

  • Deposit the data in a data repository, e.g. Zenodo
  • Assign the data a DOI and include it in publications
  • Obtain an official university record
  • Write a data access statement and include it in publications
  • Apply a license to the data, e.g. CC-BY or CC-BY-NC
  • Include sufficient documentation and/or a readme file
  • Ensure the data is open format.

Making data more open requires careful handling when there’s legal, ethical and commercial considerations. Some things we consider include:

  • Will the data being handled fall under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
  • Are any consent forms written to allow data sharing and reuse?
  • Is a security standard required for storage?

Surrey uses a multitude of ways to share sensitive or commercial data to provide transparency, allow reuse of data, and meet funder expectations.

Some options include:

  • Applying a licence to restrict types of use
  • Requiring a non-disclosure agreement
  • Providing a de-identified or aggregated version of data or a subset of data
  • Using a data repository with restricted access options.

Contact us

If you have any queries about data management or would like some help with it then please email our Open Research team.