Protecting research data through data archiving and safeguarded storage is important for ensuring that research is accessible, reusable and preserved into the long-term. Archiving and storage is only one element of research data management, but an important one. Good safeguarding and archiving techniques are a foundation upon which to build an overall research data management strategy, especially when research data needs to be accessible long into the future.
Why do I need to keep all of this data anyway?
Apart from the typical argument of “because we should”, and ensuring usability within further scientific study, there are a number of other scenarios that should to be considered:
In order to continue research, it is often imperative for institutions to accept funding from external organisations. In order to keep the funding flowing there is a need to comply with funders’ requirements and follow their guidelines for both the research and the data produced from it.
It is often mandated from funders that are either funding research or projects that are underpinned by research, that the data generated is accessible and shareable into the long term (also mandated by research councils in the UK and US such as The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – EPSRC). It is common practice for funders to require a data management plan (DMP) explicitly including long term safeguarding and preservation of research data. These data management plans are increasingly sought by independent funders (such as the Gates Foundation) as well as government supported funding bodies.
Good research practice
Funders also want researchers to follow good research practice, thus producing research outcomes that can be trusted, are of good quality and can be re-used. Making research data available ensures that research is repeatable and verifiable, meaning that research can be built upon.
This often feeds into researchers’ own desires to produce reputable research outputs and to share results throughout their communities.
Reputation and Income
Institutions that have a good infrastructure and support for research data management are more likely to attract and retain good research staff. If they can demonstrate good research at the institutional level, this can make the institution more attractive for collaborations, new projects, teaching staff and students alike, thus providing more income for the institution.
In terms of regulatory compliance mandates such as Freedom of Information and GDPR, institutions need to have a solid data management plan in place which includes the provision to keep and have access to data which may be regulated by such laws as GDPR.
Good data storage and management helps an organisation meet these requirements by providing the framework and good data management practice mandated by such regulations.
What sort of data are we talking about?
Research data can come in a variety of file types and contents, but it often has the same core characteristics:
- Needs long-term retention (decades)
- Comes in large volumes (TBs plus)
- Requires high level of data safety
- Relatively infrequently accessed
- Total cost of ownership needs to be low and sustainable
Benefits of safeguarded research data management
Research data needs to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. Research institutions can’t begin to get value from this data without first having safeguarded it, so that you have assurance that it will be there when you need it in the future.
Five benefits that you can derive from safeguarded research data are:
100% confidence that you can meet regulatory compliance
All data processing should be fully audited throughout its lifecycle and evidence ready when needed.
Quickly and cost-effectively meet new regulations as they are introduced.
No data leakage or degradation
Peace-of-mind that data exists (where it should be), is safe, immutable, secure, available and usable when you need it
Easily move to cloud or undertake migration projects
Make sure the business is in control and governs data in the cloud
Secure data access
Retain control over organisation data and reduce risk
Increased ROI, deliver more for less
Unleash the power of your data – Optimise storage footprint to further reduce operating costs without impacting business requirements or access to data.
We have put these benefits into a handy infographic for you to refer to when looking for good data safeguarding practice.
For an in depth look into best practice of protecting research data through data archiving and safeguarded storage as well as how Arkivum can support your project, take a look at our pre-recorded webinar.