Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Scholarly Communication: Research Data Management

This guide defines Scholarly Communication, and its role in raising visibility of Researcher output and web presence. Scholarly Communication is defined as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality,

Research Data Management: defined

What is Research Data Management?

The importance of effective Research Data Management (RDM) and sharing practices in research is nowadays highly recognized by funding bodies, governments, publishers, and research institutions. The commitment to the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable (FAIR) principles (Wilkinson et al., 2016) is not only a requirement by funders, but it is also one of the key principles of the global Open Science Movement, which incorporates Open Source Software (OSS); Open Educational Resources (OERs), Open Access (OA), etc. that are all fundamental to the concept of “Open Knowledge”.

The Research Data Stewardship project is a new initiative undertaken by the Rhodes University Library Services and affiliated divisions and partners at Rhodes. It aims to create mature working practices and policies regarding research data management across all Rhodes faculties and research institutes. The success of this project relies largely on the adoption and ownership of this innovation by Faculty and the research community at Rhodes. On the one hand, the Library has taken a valiant step towards the recruitment of a Principal Librarian – Digital Scholarship for research data management stewardship, this process is currently underway.

Further to enabling Research Data Stewardship, Rhodes University Library has implemented the Figshare solution to allow for research data management. The Rhodes Research Data platform already hosts several research data sets as well as open education resources (OERs). The visibility of these items via this platform has already proven valuable, and to date (18th of June 2020), the Rhodes Research Data platform has had 4599 views with 5483 items being downloaded.

Why is research data management important?

Managing research data is usually an integral part of the research process, so you probably already do it. Most of the activities should be familiar: naming files so you can find them quickly; keeping track of different versions, and deleting those not needed; backing up valuable data and outputs, and controlling who has access to your data. (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/how-and-why-you-should-manage-your-research-data) Accessed 11th June 2020

  • Research intensive universities need to demonstrate that their research environment is fit to support high-quality research. RDM is a key component of a strong research environment and ensures the reproducibility of research findings. Pressure from funders is growing all the time. Previously funders responsible for distributing public monies asked only that research publications should be made open access, now they expect researchers to share their datasets, and re-use and re-purpose those of others.
  • Funders ask for formal data management plans and expect the sector to provide the services and infrastructure to support these.
  • In times of increasing accountability, publishers in some fields are demanding access to the data that underpin published work. The data must be accessible and meaningful to others so that work can be verified and replicated.
  • With clear evidence that data is stored and managed responsibly the university will be less likely to suffer reputational damage.
  • RDM is simply good research practice, documenting datasets and curating them will ensure long term access and long term benefits to the original researcher and the global research community

A data management plan (DMP) is a written document that describes the data used within a researcher project. This includes:

  • the data acquired and generated during the course of the research project;
  • how the data will be managed, described, analysed and stored;
  • the mechanisms used to share and preserve the research data.

Research Data Management: explained