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Data Management Plans

Use this guide to develop a Data Management Plan for your research. This is required by U.S. funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

File Formats for Long-Term Access

Ideally archived files and format types should be

  • Non-proprietary open formats
  • Unencrypted
  • Uncompressed
  • Use an open, documented standard so that the format is:
    • interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications
    • fully published and available royalty-free
    • implemented by multiple vendors
    • controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard
  • Common usage within your research community
  • Standard representation (eg. ASCII, Unicode)

Additional Resources on Digital Preservation

About Archiving and Preservation

What is your long-term strategy for archiving and preserving the data from your research? Funding agencies will be particularly interested in how the research will be available for future scholars.

Consider these questions:

  • What is the long-term strategy for maintaining, curating and archiving the data?
  • Which archive/repository/database have you identified as a place to deposit data?
  • What procedures does your intended long-term data storage facility have in place for preservation and backup?
  • How long will/should data be kept beyond the life of the project?

Also consider these questions about the data and associated information that will be deposited:

  • What data will be preserved for the long-term?
  • What transformations will be necessary to prepare data for preservation / data sharing?
  • What metadata/ documentation will be submitted alongside the data or created on deposit/ transformation in order to make the data reusable?
  • What related information will be deposited?

Creating a Bulletproof Backup Strategy

Creating a back-up copy of your data is not enough to ensure against the loss of your most important research data. Minimize your chances of losing your data by following these guidelines.

Imagine a disaster. What if your office computer - which held the only copy of your data - was lost due to flood, fire or theft? What data would you need to ensure your research could continue with minimal interruption? This will help you identify what data sets you should back up.

Create your backup plan. Follow the LOCKSS method: Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe! You should be saving 3 copies of your data in geographically dispersed areas. The primary copy of your data will most likely reside on your computer. You should ensure that a second copy is locally available (like on an external harddrive) and the third copy is backed up in an external location such as an online storage service.

Select the storage mediums. Optical media, like CDs and DVDs, are not a wise back-up option since they have been shown to degrade over time, rendering the data on the disks unreadable. Consider local storage, campus storage and online storage options. (More about this in the right hand box)

Be consistent. Sporadic backups may result in inadvertent data loss if a disaster were to occur. Be sure your files are backed up regularly to avoid major data loss.

Storage Options

If you have ever had your hard drive crash, you know how important it is to keep copies of your working data in a secure location. There are many storage options out there for you to choose from.

Local Storage has the convenience of everyday access and personalized control, however many local systems are not backed-up regularly and require management.

  • Computer hard drive
  • External media (hardrive, flash drive)
  • Departmental server, local access

Campus-based Storage options are managed (ie. regularly backed-up) and can make collaboration easy, however, control and capacity are limited.

  • Contact your department IT staff or CSULB ITS for more options

Cloud-based storage stores data on remote servers which can take away the burden of access and management issues. This is an ideal place for a secondary or tertiary storage location for your files. Some are free services while others are fee-based that offer a test drive before purchasing an accoun

  • Subject or Discipline-specific repositories
  • Commercial (such as Amazon S3, DropBox)