Data management planning checklist

Intended as a tool for data management planning, this checklist includes key items to be considered when preparing a data management plan.

Who is interested in my data? Are there any obligations for sharing data?
Do  funders have  requirements or data policies?
Are there ethical or legal issues?
Do I want to license my data?
What about metadata and documentation?
How do I ensure the quality of my data?
Data storage and data security
Long-term preservation
Services for sharing data

Who is interested in my data? Are there any obligations for sharing data?

There are many different ways of and motives for sharing research data. In the simplest terms, sharing data might involve merely sending a file to a colleague. The guidelines or requirements of different organisations and disciplines concerning the sharing of data can vary, depending on the nature of the data or key stakeholders.

Some funders and organisations have policies on the sharing of data.
Also read about the data policies for Finnish higher education institutions and Finnish research institutes
•    LYNET Consortium data policy (LYNET = Consortium for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment in Finland)
•    GTK (Geological Survey of Finland)
•    Statistics Finland

Additional information on the state research institute reform currently underway can be found on the Finnish Government website.

There are archiving obligations specific to individual scientific disciplines and organisations (cf. above funder, higher education institution and research institute data policies). Some higher education institutions or their libraries offer public archives for the storage of both publications and research data. Data archiving obligations specific to individual scientific disciplines may be set by, for example, leading funding organisations or publishers, such as NASA and ESA in the field of cosmology.

Check the metadata catalogue service to see whether the same types of data sets exist. If desired, you can add your own data to a collection or create your own data  collection.

You can share your data through research data services of the ministry of education and culture.

Please keep in mind that laws place restrictions on the sharing of certain types of data. This applies especially to data whose open sharing could pose a threat to security, privacy protection or legal trade.  Additional information on this can be found in this guide.

Do  funders have  requirements or data policies?

Many funders have requirements concerning produced data, such as where the preservation and sharing of results are concerned. Funders want as much exposure as possible for the research they are funding. Many foreign funders (e.g. the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health) and scientific journals require that research data is openly available after its initial use.

Finnish funders are, for example,  the Academy of Finland and Tekes as well as several foundations and funds.

Check  the policies of Higher education institutions  and funders

Are there  ethical or legal issues?

Not all data can be open to all. Various data have different degrees of publicity , ranging from completely open to highly confidential.  The publisher of the data must ensure that its publication does not violate the Personal Data Act (523/1999), Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999) or Copyright Act (404/1961).

For additional information on this, please visit the following links:

  • Significance of the Personal Data Act in processing data on the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman website, particularly under Information for the register holder (Finnish only). You are considered a register holder if you collect personal data for a specific purpose. In this case, you are also held responsible for the processing of personal data.
  • The Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman has published a brochure "Data protection and scientific research from the point of view of Personal Data Act" (in Finnish only).
  • Higher education institution policies regarding rights of data ownership. Aalto University: Art University Copyright Advice
  • University of Helsinki: "Copyright in teaching" website (in Finnish only) compiled by Pirjo Kontkanen.
  • University of Helsinki data policy. Working group proposals (in Finnish only)
  • University of Helsinki Library research data policy
  • Kontkanen, Pirjo: Copyright within university research and teaching
  • Salokannel, Marjut: Basics of Scientific Research: Legal regulation related to the availability of research data and other primary research materials. (in Finnish only)

Do I want to license my data?

Licences allow you to grant users various rights to your data. Users may only use your data on the terms and conditions you specify.

In the spring of 2014, the JHS XXX Avointen tietoaineistojen käyttölupa (–JHS XXX Open data user license) project will be completed. The working group has adopted the CC 4.0 attribution license draft as the basis for its coming recommendation. The final recommendation will be published in machine-readable form on the public administration interoperability portal  www.yhteentoimivuus.fi (in Finnish only), where it is also possible to follow the progress of the project.

Use of a license is recommended, because it gives the user certain rights, whose prescribed specification can save a great deal of trouble at a later stage. The use of a Creative Commons license is recommended by the national research data initiative. Read more about the Creative Commons Finland license here: http://creativecommons.fi  There is a help page for publishers to choose a suitable license.

More detailed information on licensing can be found in the Data sharing and publishing section.

What about metadata and documentation?

Basically metadata is data about data. Metadata makes it possible to locate individual files and effectively use them. Metadata can also contain a description of the  lifecycle of the data, events related to it or even user rights. Defined metadata in particular allows for  machine processing and identification of data.

There is a minimum metadata model for the description of research data.

The use of data which is to be stored and shared requires that its metadata is high in quality and sufficiently comprehensive. This allows future users to define the applicability of the data for their own intended purposes and provide them with an understanding of the restrictions regarding its use. The data should be described using standard concepts, terms and ontologies relevant  to the field of science :  it must be possible for different researchers to understand things in the same way. There are discipline-specific definitions for the data, and recommendations vary from field to  field.

The Etsin - research data finder will use ontologies to standardise the terms being used. Suggestions for keywords related to data in Kata  are brought  from the Finnish General Upper Ontology (YSO) vocabulary, the Finnish Geo- Ontology (SUO) and discipline-specific vocabularies defined by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The metadata working group of the National research data initiative has formulated  its own vocabulary recommendations. Additional information on these recommendations will be available on this website when they are completed. The use of terms not found in the given vocabularies is also possible. For additional information on, for example, ontologies and vocabularies, visit the Finnish Ontology Library Service ONKI and the Finnish Thesaurus and Ontology Service websites.

To date, there are no recommended file formats for the long-term preservation of research data. As a result, efforts are being made to, wherever possible, establish standardised formats for different disciplines. The National Digital Library (KDK) project has laid out not only acceptable file formats for long-term preservation, but also administrative and structural metadata required for long-term preservation and guidelines for material packaging. These KDK guidelines do not, however, meet every aspect of the requirements for research data.

For additional information, go to Sharing metadata.

How do I ensure the quality of my data?

 The quality process ensures that the content and format of the stored data corresponds with the description of the data, in accordance with the specified criteria.

Data storage and data security

Sharing research data on a web site is very straightforward and often easy, but the data might be exposed to considerable data security risks, which might cause liabilities for the researcher.

When protecting research data against risks there are both technical and legal considerations in data security. Risks assessment and implementing security controls should be documented.  It is also important to decide how protective measures are implemented and by whom. In many cases, it is often a good idea to outsource protective technical routines, such as backups of managing firewalls,  whenever possible. This allows data owners to transfer some of the risks away from themselves. The section data security discusses in greater detail related fundamentals, which should be taken into consideration and applied when using research data.

Long-term preservation

Long-term preservation is for cases where research data is to be stored and kept usable and comprehensible for tens or even hundreds of years.  Digital (long-term) preservation requires a suitable, specifically-designed information system and, in particular, the implementation of joint operating approaches and models to be used by organisations involved.

The long-term preservation service for research data is provided in co-operation with the National Digital Library (KDK) project and will probably be launched in 2015. The KDK long-term preservation service was launched in 2013.

There are also services for specific disciplines, such as EBI, ESA and ESO.

Services for sharing data

Various parties offer services for sharing data, both openly available and those intended only for a specific organisation. Data can also be shared by other means, such as email, file sharing services or even an old-fashioned postal service.

  •  The Services page presents e.g. services provided by the Ministry of education and culture, in-house services of universities and organisations and international services.
  • Services connected to various operating systems and software, such as FTP, STFP and Microsoft Sharepoint.
  • Funet offers a FileSender service.
  • File sharing services include Torrent and P2P services.
  • Funet Box