What is Research Data ?

Research data includes both code and raw data. Many reports/papers will point to source data and links may become broken. All data must be kept safe (e.g. from fire and theft) but this particularly applies to personal data. The DPA covers more than you might think.

Where is the data ?

This is not always clear. If an auditor were to ask where research data is kept and if/how it is backed up, it's not always easy for the researcher to find out. The main considerations are safekeeping in the short term and curation in the longer term.

There are currently many places where research data is stored/backed up - Virtual Box, mirrored to servers, copied to external disk, tape, ECDF facility.

QUESTION: What is ECDF's backup strategy ?

It is essential to have a disaster recovery backup and to keep track of data locations. Anything used to create a paper should be kept and links should be maintained. However, some data needs to be destroyed after a period of time e.g. NHS data.

What happens when someone leaves ?

When a person leaves, it is very easy to lose track of data. It was felt that the Institute (or more correctly, supervisor) should be responsible for research data when an RA/PhD leaves. The person's home directoryis private unless permission is sought and given. We should have a policy on harvesting data when people leave.


Student agreement with SourceForge . Data can be held externally for collaboration. Do we expect external data to be backed up ? Third party collaborators are used (DropBox , googledocs, mediafare are examples in current use) as backup but NOT as a master source. We also use svn repositories (e.g. coltex).

DP issues

We discussed the importance of data encryption particularly with sensitive data. AFS is potentially more accessible so care is required on where data is stored and user training required on how to control access via ACLs. Recommend, for example, that data is not held on a web server.

Issues with forwarding e-mails to external provider were discussed. Lots of people use gmail. What if you read e-mail on a laptop using imap in the US (i.e. ouwith EU) ? Does it make a difference if you use a VPN ? Does the DPA prevent you from collaborating outwith the EU ? This would impact on a large number of our researchers and therefore it was suggested that further advice is needed and we also need to raise the profile of such issues.

-- AlisonDownie - 04 Nov 2010

Topic revision: r1 - 04 Nov 2010 - 14:21:26 - AlisonDownie
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