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Research data management

Research Data

Digital research data is any data created during research that can be stored on a computer or converted to digital files (e.g. field notes, analog recordings and photographs). 

Research data can also include:

  • Numerical data: instrument measurements, survey responses.
  • Documentation: publications, experimental methods, field notes, analytical methods, technical reports, dataset descriptions.
  • Digital images: photographs, diagrams, graphs.
  • Digital audio: audio data, interviews, wildlife recordings, language recordings.
  • Digital video: high-speed recordings, interviews.
  • Configuration data: Configuration and optimization settings for simulation and in-silico experimentation.

Physical data sets such as biological specimens and soil samples are not considered digital research data. 

Research Data vs Primary Scholarly Output

The word data can cause some confusion.

It can be argued that data is the supporting material for research output. An artwork is the output itself, in the same way a performance is the output of a music scholar. With this definition in mind, an artwork or performance would not be data but rather a primary scholarly output. It is not the same thing as a series of images of buildings or architecture, in which case, the images are data, i.e. materials that supports research.

The issue of disciplinary differences is likely to feature strongly in this debate – what is one person’s data might be another’s primary output.

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) Definition

ARDC has intentionally left the definition of research data open so as to be as inclusive as possible. Research Data Australia accepts records of data that are considered to be important to the Australian research community, rather than to an established definition of what constitutes research data.

While research publications are not within the scope of ARDC, they can be used as 'related information' for research data where they are integral to the understanding of other collection materials.

Files, images, tables, databases, models, computer outputs, and similar digital representations are within the scope of ARDC. 


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