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As of 2015, the UvA and AUAS have introduced central guidelines on the management of research data. According to these new guidelines, a data management plan must now be prepared for every new research project. The Library supports researchers in several ways.

Mariëtte van Selm (photo: Monique Kooijmans)

'Publishers and financiers such as the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and EU are also increasingly demanding that research data is published and shared’, explains Mariëtte van Selm, information specialist at the UvA/AUAS Library. Van Selm provides advice on the preparation of data management plans, answers questions through the RDM Service Desk and holds workshops. As of this summer, the Library will be offering a central RDM storage system that also allows for the publication and sharing of data.

Open where possible, closed where necessary

Van Selm: 'This issue of secure data storage has become more prominent since the scandal surrounding Diederik Stapel. Research conclusions have to be verifiable. There's also the Open Access movement, which advocates the oen sharing of data. The rector and Library wholeheartedly support this development. Efforts to ensure that research projects are replicable and data can be shared can yield great value and benefit researchers from other fields. The new Standard Evaluation Protocol also offers the possibility of applying the sharing and publication of datasets as a criterion for research quality. The central guidelines specify: “open where possible, closed where necessary”. In some cases, this is not possible due to the privacy of personal details or patents. Researchers are free to determine whether – and if so, when – they wish to share their data.'

Ten-year retention period

The guidelines also specify that all research data must be stored for a period of at least ten years, while each research unit must appoint a data steward. The knowledge centres and research institutes will be expected to independently elaborate the guidelines into individual data protocols. These protocols serve to record agreements on aspects such as the division of responsibilities, access, archival, etc. 

Need for better storage facilities

'Although we didn't conduct a baseline measurement, many aspects of our data management procedures were clearly in need of improvement. In addition to greater safety awareness, we will also have to improve our storage facilities; there are still major differences between the various research institutes and knowledge centres in this area. In some cases, the network disks currently used by our researchers do not have sufficient capacity. They then turn to solutions such as Dropbox, USB drives and external hard disks. These media are not really safe and can be lost. In some cases, data is lost because it is stored on external media and disappears with researchers as they leave. As a result, the institution loses intellectual property rights.'

Central research data storage system

'As a Library, we obviously want to help researchers store their data as effectively as possible, both during and after their research projects. This is why we are currently working to purchase and configure a central storage system. The new system is intended for researchers that do not yet have access to sufficient or adequate storage facilities through their research institute, knowledge centre or international colleagues.'

Benefits for researchers

'We also offer other support services to help researchers optimise their data management. This benefits the organisation, colleagues, and the researchers themselves. In addition to providing secure storage facilities, we also contribute to improved accessibility through the use of metadata in order to increase findability, and strive to ensure that datasets are accurately described. This enables all parties to find, understand and reuse the research data they need as quickly and effortlessly as possible. An effective data plan will increase the likelihood of successful grant applications and boost the UvA/AUAS' appeal as a research partner to the business community and institutions. The Library is offering templates and check-lists for the preparation of data management plans via'