Instructions for managing and publishing research data in JYU

Research data refers to digital or analog basic data sets for scientific research as well as further data refined from these, upon which the research findings and published research results are based. In a science university the management, storing and further use of research data are essential elements of research infrastructure. Domestic and international research financers as well as publishers not only appreciate but increasingly also call for openness and transparency of research data.

References to published data sets can be made in the same way as to actual research publications. Good data management enhances, above all, the actual research process. JYU provides research teams with a research data infrastructure, which comprises tools to support data management with appropriate data security and storage capacity as well as related advisory and guidance services. 

Initial stage of research

Contracts and agreements

Particularly in view of the further use of research data compiled in a research project, the ownership of and access rights to the data should be agreed upon as early as possible. There are agreement templates available for this purpose. Transfer-of-rights agreements are always recommended, but must be made at least in the following cases:

  • Projects funded by Business Finland (formerly Tekes)
  • EU research programmes
  • Commissioned research
  • As requested by the financer.

Ensuring further use of data

Even if the data set has been published with open access, it is always worth licensing. Licensing can also be used to restrict the user rights to the data (e.g. for non-commercial use only). 

In human sciences, the research subjects must be informed about the purpose and scope of using the data collected, so that possible further use of the data can be ensured. 

Procedures

Data management plan

Research financers, e.g. the Academy of Finland, require applicants to provide a data management plan as part of the research plan: How will the research data be obtained, used, stored and protected, and how is their later use enabled for other users?

As a rule, one should seek to publish the data for further use. However, publishing does not necessarily mean that the data could be used by anyone for any purpose whatsoever. It is therefore important to acknowledge and document the ownership, control and terms of use for the data and include these in the descriptive metadata. The ownership and control of a data set entail a right to decide on the purpose of its use, but also responsibility for proper management of the data.

Any data sets including personal data of special category (and always when collecting identifiable personal data in human sciences) should be saved and kept in data storage services appointed by the University, and where necessary also be transferred and delivered in accordance with relevant legislation and data security instructions. A data management plan should typically describe:

  • What kind of data will be collected and how?
  • In what ways the data will be processed and analysed?
  • What kind of resulting data will be produced?
  • How the research data will be stored and how their possible later use is arranged?
  • Ownership and access rights for the data (incl. related agreements).

The DMPTuuli tool can be used as an aid for data management plans. This tool is designed for preparing data management plans in accordance with the requirements of different financers. It also includes JYU instructions for preparing a data management plan (DMP).

When preparing a data management plan, note that:

  • The plan is worth making even if the research financer would not necessarily require it: It serves as a useful updated document along the progressing research work and helps, for example, in documenting the processing of personal data in accordance with the GDPR.
  • Keep in mind the regulations of the archiving plan as regards the length of data storage times as well as other instructions for archiving, such as JYU’s directions for registering, processing and storing documents (TOS).
  • Comply with the handling instructions of confidential information.
  • Where necessary, request a statement from the Ethical Committee about the ethical acceptability of the research, and read the instructions regarding information to be given to research subjects.
  • In human sciences, confirm with the research subjects the conditions for possible further use of the data.

Collecting and processing of research data

A large part of research data is in digital form to start with. Research data typically consist of

  • questionnaire and interview data
  • various measurement and observation data
  • other types of video, image, audio and text materials.

Basic data sets for research are collected by means of questionnaires, interviews, video recordings as well as various devices and sensors. Different measurement and data collection methods yield different metadata and file formats. This poses challenges especially when investigating the same phenomenon with different observation methods and data sets. The processing of research data (e.g. regarding data descriptions. data protection and data security) can be streamlined and automatised by software designed for this purpose.

At the data analysis stage, the actual results of an empirical study are yielded from the raw data. When raw data is processed, combined and analysed, it results in various further data sets for elaboration and reporting. For the smooth progress of the study it is important that the generated data sets can be handled in a controlled fashion. There are different data management software applications available for different types of data sets. Data management also includes data descriptions by means of so-called metadata.

Procedures

  • Find out what kind of software is available for data collection, processing and analysis.
  • For research infrastructures and large research projects, a data management plan can be prepared in collaboration with JYU’s Digital Services.
  • Digital Services provide software for data processing. 
  • University Printing Services converts paper-based data into digital form as a paid service.

Storing and sharing of research data

As the research process goes on, there is a need to transfer data sets for storage. At the same time, it is often also necessary to share some data and related access rights with other researchers over a data network. Also at this stage it is essential to take proper care of data protection and data security issues for the research data. Sensitive material should not be transferred online without adequate safety measures. Bear in mind that keeping data sets on the hard discs of workstations, memory sticks and USB drives is in principle a risk in terms of data protection and data security.

When data sets are transferred for longer-term storage, for possible further use, or to be published, the data should be carefully checked and anonymised. When due attention is paid to data management from the outset, the data can be prepared fairly easily for long-term storing, further use, and publishing. Comprehensive instructions for the handling of data sets are available in the data management guidelines of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. 

Tools for data management and publishing of research data

JYU offers various tools that can make data management easier, covering the phases from data collection up to storing, sharing and further use:

  • Workstations and related software (e.g. SPSS and Atlas.ti)
  • Special hardware and software for various research teams and laboratories
  • Centralised storage services and virtual servers
  • Centrally maintained software for data collection, analysis, modelling, etc.
  • Software to support working in distributed research teams (e.g. Confluence-wiki, GoogleApps, Connect Pro online conferencing)
  • Tools designed for secure processing and transfer of data sets, e.g. collabRoom
  • TutkimusMoniviestin intended for storing of audio-visual materials
  • JYX publication archive for publishing small sets of research data
  • The University’s quota in CSC’s IDA storage service

Order the services needed in your research project from the package of basic services for research.

Saving and open access of research data

There are numerous options for saving research data and making it open access both in Finland and abroad. Read more about recommendable data archives

Regardless of which data archive you use, it is crucial that relevant information about the data set and storage site remains also at JYU. The metadata on research data sets will be saved in the Converis research database as of spring 2019. Watch for further announcements on this!

 The Open Science Centre helps you with issues related to data management and publishing. Please contact us at researchsupport-osc@jyu.fi