Data

Data binds all of today’s research together. Even if you don’t consider yourself to do data-based research, the results of your work becomes data before it is published. The highest levels of funding agencies are beginning to demand good data management and openness. Knowing how to manage data is probably one of the most important untaught modern skills.

It’s not just “get it done”: there are good and bad methods of managing data. For example,

  • A bad strategy is to store everything in one folder on your own laptop: there’s a very high chance that you will someday lose it all. A better strategy is to use a secure centralized service - preferably an Aalto service, since you get guaranteed support for free.
  • A bad strategy is for everyone to do their own thing and put no effort into recording what they have done: in five years, when the group is almost completely changed, that data will be unusable. A better strategy is to make sure things are documented and archived as soon you get them (and keep this up to date), so that the data can continue to serve you in the future.
  • A bad strategy is to assume all data is proprietary Aalto information: eventually funders will demand more and you won’t be prepared, and Aalto will remain an island, instead of a hub that others want to work with and build on. A better strategy is to always consider openness, licensing, and privacy from the start (even if you don’t do it right away), and always separate data based on level of confidentiality so that you can share or open later.

You can find more formal information at the Aalto Research Data Management pages.

Big considerations

We recommend you read the outline to see what the main considerations are before starting your research. Services helps you be sure you know everything available. For Aalto open source information, see its page.

Data management plans

A “data management plan” (DMP) can mean a formal thing that funders require (funder DMP). However, it also worth thinking about how you’ll manage data on a day to day basis (practical DMP). This section will contains some information on both, but focused on the latter. For information on Funder DMPs, see the Aalto Research Data Management pages. We recommend that you first think about your practical DMP, so that the Funder DMP comes naturally. The Funder DMP has more of a focus on sharing, standardization, and openness.

Aalto data storage

Aalto provides many tools and resources for storing data. Overall, you should try to store the master copy of your data on some centralized storage system - which Aalto provides for free and can be accessed from any computer. By storing on a central system, you get backups, sharing, large amounts of space, and guaranteed support.

See the Aalto environment section, and specifically Aalto data storage for the services and Data: outline, requesting space, requesting access for requesting storage space.

Tools, resources, and instructions

There are a wide variety of other tools that may be useful, both inside and outside of Aalto: