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Research Data Management: FAQs

Data configuration

My files are too large to share, what can I do?


My research has required me to develop code using a proprietary software, does this need to shared?

Coding is a type of research data and needs to be shared if required by your funder, or if generally you want others to be able to validate your results

My data is physical and non-digital, must this be shared?

All research data which can potentially be re-used for analysis or validation whether digital or non-digital, can be shared. If this is a part of funder policy, then this must be adhered to. Data can be stored in a safe location in your laboratory/office and a metadata record created on Aston Data Explorer which is accessible to the public.


I am in the process of having an article published which I have produced with a collaborator at another UK instituition. Do we both upload the research data produced from this project onto our institutional repositories?

 There is no requirement for any research data created at another institution to shared.


My research comprises of highly sensitive data which has been obtained from the analysis of human participants, am I exempt from sharing?

When human participants are involved, the requirements set out by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) must be adhered to. Written informed consent should be provided by the individuals if there data is to be shared. Researchers should ensure that when participants provide written consent they are advised on the potential future uses of their data when shared together with how data will be stored and confidentiality maintained.

Qualitative data such as direct identifiers(name, address, photographs, telephone numbers) and indirect identifiers(salary, age, sexual orientation, religious/political views, occupation) can release personal information and require anonymisation. The UK Data Archive provide examples of how anonymisation can be undertaken for qualitative data.

Quantitative data can also be anonymised primarily through data reduction and data modification techniques. Data reduction methods include the aggregation of results through combining categories and suppressing certain results, without compromising the validity of the dataset. Data modification often involves the rounding up or down of numerical values in the data. An alterative method is where a representative sample of the data is made available for sharing. Please see the Australian Bureau of Statistics for more information.

Am I exempt from data sharing as when obtaining informed consent I never asked my participants whether they would accept the sharing and reuse of their data?

Informed consent can be obtained retrospectively. This can be difficult to achieve, so it is advisable that where your funder requires data sharing this issue is tackled prior to the commencement of the project.


For how long should my data be archived?

The Aston University Policy states, "Data should be retained for a period which follows best practice in the discipline or funder requirements. If none exist, data will be retained by default for a period of 10 years after which a review takes place in deciding whether the data is worth keeping for longer."


Do I have to provide access to my data before publication?

Once research is completed and has been published it is expected that researchers openly share the data behind the research, subject to constraints such as intellectual property, confidentiality, ethical issues etc. See What to Share & What Not to Share. If the research is not yet published, the data can be protected providing data sharing intentions are specified e.g. embargo period and third party agreements. See Access and Security

How do I obtain a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for my dataset?

Once your data has been uploaded onto Aston Data Explorer, your Research Data Management Specialist will create one for you. If you have however deposited your research data in an external repository, the metadata record should be specified in Aston Data Explorer together with a copy of your DOI which the repository would have generated for you.

Intellectual property

What if my data is subject to Intellectual Property Rights?

If the data produced is subject to Intellectual Property Rights, sharing of the data will not be problematic if copyright permission has been granted by the owner. This should ideally form a part of the initial DMP but can also be done undertaken retrospectively. If the data has been purchased from a 3rd party for analysis, the conditions of the license must be adhered to with regards to what data if any can be published. A metadata record should still be created in Aston Data Explorer.

Who owns the copyright to my data?

Unless there are alternative pre-existing agreements, Aston University assumes ownership of the research data produced by research staff. Please see the University Intellectual Property Policy for more information.

Funders' requirements

Where can I find details of funders’ requirements and policies?

You can find information regarding funders' requirements on the Funders' Data Policies page.

How is Research Data Management related to Open Access?

The RCUK Policy on Open Access states “All papers must include … if applicable, a statement on how the underlying research materials – such as data, samples or models – can be accessed.”  For more information on Open Access see the Open Access publishing for Aston authors web pages.

Historical Research Data

I have been sharing my research data for many years. I am interested in now using Aston Data Explorer, could I upload historical data?

Yes. Remember to upload as much metadata as possible to increase the visibility of your data and how well it can be understood.

Aston Data Explorer

How is Aston Data Explorer linked to  Aston Publications Explorer?

The publications in the  Aston Publications Explorer should link to your data in Aston Data Explorer by having the DOI stored in the metadata fields. Your data in Aston Data Explorer should also be linked to your publications in Aston Publications Explorer. This can be undertaken by the researcher or your RDM specialist will do so on your behalf.


What if someone publishes using my data before I have the chance to do so?

Most research funders will allow an embargo period between publication of the journal article and the data becoming openly available

Am I exempt from sharing my data due to its highly sensitive nature?

See What to Share & What Not to Share. Anonymisation procedures together with the use of aggregated or representative results can be valid alternatives if the data is of a highly sensitive nature. Other methods include embargoing the data for a period of time or controlling access. Some data repositories store data which is not publicly available and can only be discovered by registered researchers.


How and where do I store my active research data?

See Storage. 

When do I upload my research data onto Aston Data Explorer?

The data should be available at the time of online publication. However, to obtain a DOI for the Data Access Statement from Library Services, as a minimum the metadata must have been uploaded onto Aston Data Explorer prior to Submission of the article.

Do I have to use Aston Data Explorer?

No. You can use whatever repository you like, as long as that repository is Open Access, can store the data for a period of time which meets your funder requirements (e.g. 10 years) and can give your dataset a persistent identifier. See However, it is recommended that you upload your metadata in this case onto Aston Data Explorer so that your profile is complete and your data gets greater exposure


Why would anyone be interested in my data?

 It is impossible to predict how the research environment will be like in the future. Even if you feel your data is of no use now, it may become useful to you or other researchers in the future. Your research may possibly be used for other purposes such as teaching. A commonly cited example is how amateur gardener diaries are now being used in climate change research

I am a research student, does data sharing apply to me?

 The open data sharing policies of RCUK and funding bodies apply to all researchers, including research students.

It's my data and I don't want to share it, why should I?

The benefits of having open research data include that it facilitates an increased number of author citations, promotes collaborations, prevents fraud in the research process and allows validation of results. An increasing number of journals, funders and academic institutions are developing data sharing policies. Non compliance could potentially lead to articles being rejected by publishers and sanctions which may significantly reduce or prevent future funding.

Do I need to share my data if I am self funded?

There is no absolute requirement. However, it is highly encouraged to share your research data to improve the visibility of your research.