Data management

Data management is the storage, sharing, archiving and retrieval of data related to research.

Why data management?

At the start of your research you can work together with an information specialist/data steward on the following:

  • How much data do I generate during my research?
  • What sort of data is it and in what format do I save it?
  • How can I (and others) retrieve my data the best?
  • How can I easily and securely share data with fellow researchers?
  • Which data repositories are important in my field?
  • Creating a data management plan

The information specialist/data steward also connects you to IT and informs you about policy and legislation and regulations that you need to take into account in data management.

Effectively managing your research data is important:

  • Research data are demands from financiers and institutions.
  • You operate according to the the Dutch Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity ( Nederlandse Gedragscode voor Wetenschappelijke Integriteit).
  • You are able to retrieve data
  • You notice early on which facilities you need to securely store your data.
  • You can guarantee the verifiability and integrity of the research.
  • You can publish your datasets for future reuse.
  • Research data can generate extra impact when published.

Several information specialists/datastewards are part of the pool of experts of the ‘Landelijke Co√∂rdinatiepunt Research Data Management’ (LCRDM).

Need help answering questions about data management or guidance in completing your data management plan (DMP)? Please email one of the information specialists/data stewards from your research centre:

Before your research

Data management plan
Before you start your research it is good to think about how you want to deal with your research data.
Grant providers such as NWO and ZonMW already request a data management paragraph. with the grant application.

Later, you work out the data management paragraph into a data management plan, together with an information specialist. This helps you to make conscious and consistent decisions about your research data. This can save you time at a later stage of your research.

By creating a data management plan (DMP), you create the conditions for good data management. In a DMP you describe which data you will collect, how you save this data and what happens to the data after the research project. During the preparation of a data management plan you pay attention to all aspects related to the management of research data. By doing this at an early stage, you reduce the chance of any surprises.

In a data management plan you answer questions such as:

  • Which data or file formats will you collect, and what size?
  • Where and how are you going to save this data? How do you ensure backups?
  • How are you going to organise and describe your data?
  • Who gets access to that data and how do you manage this?
  • What will you archive at the end of the project? Where will you store it, and for how long?
  • Will the archived data be available to others?
  • Who owns your data and who is responsible for the management?
  • (Hoe) is voorzien in de middelen die nodig zijn om het allemaal uit te voeren?

You can always modify your plan along the way.

You find templates and examples of data management plans at DMP-online.

During your research

You describe how you want to save the research data in the data management plan. You also ensure the safety of the data and plan how you can exchange research data with fellow researchers.

Data containing personal details must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG). To protect the rights and freedom of those involved in research, it is necessary to make data anonymous. A researcher must ask himself the following questions:

  • Can I, another person or an organisation, still single out individual participants from the total group of (potential) respondents without knowing their name?
  • Can I link data from other sources to the data from this person involved?
  • Is it possible to derive other data from the available data about a subject? Here too, the question is not whether you want to do that as a researcher, but whether it is possible.

If you can answer at least one of these questions with “yes”, the data is not anonymous.

Data storage and safe sharing

Saving your research data:
Research data for personal use is stored on the HU network. There is a space specially set up for HU research: the ‘onderzoeksschijf”. Storage capacity is made available for each research centre. Long-term storage is also (temporarily) arranged here. If you work outside the HU, you access via a VPN connection.

External hard drives, USB sticks, Dropbox etc. are not used to store HU research data. These media are not safe.

Safely sharing with others
If you work together with other Dutch educational institutions, SURFdrive is very suitable for sharing files safely.
You can compare it to a secure version of Dropbox or Google Drive.

Sending large (encrypted) files:
Large files can be sent incidentally with SURFfilesender. You can compare it with a safe version of WeTransfer. You can send the files encrypted with a password according to the Advanced Encryption Standard with a 256-bit key.
The file is then stored encrypted on a secure server. Then you mail or app the password to the recipient.

This way you can share sensitive (video) data with students in a responsible way. Make sure that they will delete the encrypted files from their own computers after use.

Encrypt files manually

If you want to encrypt files manually with your HU laptop, you can do that with 7-ZIP. You can download this tool from the HU Software Center.

File formats
The research data must be retained for a legally determined period (at least 10 years) and be accessible to third parties.
The organisation Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) has the following guidelines for file formats that are best suited for sustainability and accessibility in the long term:

  • Must be used often
  • Contain open specifications
  • Be independent from specific software, developers or suppliers

Dans has drawn up a  list of preferred file formats for sustainable storage of data.


After your research

Research data must be stored securely and in a sustainable manner so that it can serve as evidence for the publication and may also be used for further research. It is therefore about data archiving and reuse.
Grant providers may request to record this beforehand in a data management section.

It is important to arrange who may access the data. It is also important to determine the minimum period of storage.
In the Netherlands there are two institutes that provide data storage: DANS and for technical scientific research, 4TU.ResearchData.

As a researcher you can store your data sets (free up to 100 GB) in EASY by DANS.
The first time you log in with your institution (HU) and then create your personal EASY account. Now your account is linked to the HU.

If you do technical scientific research, you can archive your data sets at 4TU.ResearchData. Uploading up to 10GB per year is free. You can create a personal account via the upload form.

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