FOCUS: DATA

RESEARCH DATA MANAGEMENT RESOURCES FROM THE UK DATA SERVICE

Introduction

The UK Data Archive, lead partner of the UK Data Service, based here at the University of Essex, is home to the UK’s largest collection of social, economic and population data since 1967. Besides facilitating access to data, our mission is to provide researchers with training and support and enable excellent social and economic research, teaching and learning. 

UK Data Service Data Catalogue

The UK Data Service hosts over 8800 data collections ranging from microdata to aggregate data, from quantitative to qualitative and from cross-sectional to longitudinal. We make available large-scale governmental surveys such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales and the Labour Force Survey, as well as, key longitudinal data collections including Understanding Society, the Millennium Cohort Study and the English Longitudinal Study of Aging

Our catalogue is easily searchable or if you have a topic in mind but not a data collection, browsing data by theme or type might help you easily identify the study that suits your research questions. 

Research Data Management Skills

Good research data management is essential in ensuring our research projects are feasible and of long-term use. Our Research Data Management team provides international best practice to data managers and providers, and aims to ensure that researchers have the necessary knowledge and skills to prepare and deliver high-quality research. Our focus is to ensure data are FAIR and we fully support researchers throughout the research data lifecycle.  

Graphic explaining the research data lifecycle. Six circles containing stages of the lifecycle arranged in a circle with clockwise arrows connecting them. Top most circle says "Planning Research". This leads to "Collecting Data". Then "Processing and analysing data". Then "Publishing and sharing data". Then "Preserving data". Then "Reusing data". Then finally back to "Planning research"

Data Management Planning

Thinking of a Data Management Plan (DMP) as the foundation for our research projects guarantees a better data life cycle and a smoother experience in making our data or code available for re-use. No matter if your project consists of primary or secondary data, writing up a DMP helps you keep better track of your data during and after your project, further enables transparent analysis and ensures long-term preservation and data sharing. We make online resources available on DMPs including costing approaches, a short checklist to help you better include everything in your DMP and also guidance on assessment of DMPs

Ethical and Legal Considerations

When conducting research it is our responsibility to keep in mind ethical considerations as appropriate for our research projects. If your research is about primary data, you can always adapt our model consent form for qualitative data and our survey consent statement for your project. If you are doing secondary analysis you can learn more about copyright, explore different scenarios and keep track of all data that you are using with the variable log template

Data Curation

Once you have collected or acquired your data, storing it safely and according to legislation is of high importance. You should always consider backup, encryption, and safe disposal. Furthermore, consistent versioning and well-organised folder structures will help you keep track of your data during your project. 

Sharing data should pose no risk to human participants hence using anonymisation techniques enables safe sharing while maintaining the confidentiality of your participants. If you collect numerical data, the UK Data Archive open-source QAMyData tool will help you assess the quality of your data and support the sharing of high-quality data. 

Finally, documenting your data is crucial in enabling reuse. We provide in-depth guidance for data-level documentation, study-level documentation and metadata on our website. 

Find out More

Online Events

In addition to the wealth of information and templates available to download and use from our website, we organise a wide range of free to attend online events. From data management basics: Introduction to data management and sharing touching on key elements described in the blog to consent issues in data sharing focusing on best practices in preparing consent documentation. These are available to watch on-demand from our YouTube Channel

Get In Touch

If you are working on a research project involving the use and/or collection of data, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at datasharing@ukdataservice.ac.uk. We are here to help from DMP guidance, to data sharing protocols and any other data sharing issues. 

If you need any other support with your research, you can contact the Library’s Research Support team: ressup@essex.ac.uk

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