Sharing your thesis research data
What is research data?
Research data is any information or material collected (or created) for the purposes of analysis, which supports the conclusions and assertions contained within your thesis. This can include, but is not limited to, digital images, video, source code, transcripts, survey data, measurements and readings, software, and notes from fieldwork, archival research, or lab work.
Why should I share my data?
Sharing research data has numerous benefits including increasing the discoverability of research findings and allowing new research questions to be answered. This can raise the impact of your research through increased visibility, citations, and facilitating new collaborations.
Data sharing is also mandated by many research funders, including the UKRI research councils. Funders, publishers, and institutions increasingly require researchers to share the data which underpins their publications, so it’s good practice to think about this for your thesis.
How do I share my data?
Data access statements
If you decide to share your data, then you could include a data access statement at the start of your thesis. Data access statements should contain information about where your data can be accessed and who can access it. In addition, adding the link to your eThesis within the metadata record for your data enables you to easily link your thesis to your data.
Where can I deposit my data?
We recommend using the University’s supported institutional research data repository, Figshare, an easy-to-use cloud-based platform. There are also many discipline-specific data repositories, including for software or code, which can be found on Re3data. Some funders expect data to be deposited in specific data centres e.g. ESRC and NERC support dedicated data centres.
Licensing your data
Data repositories will likely ask you to choose a licence for your research data. Licences clearly communicate to others what they can and cannot do with your research data.
Most research data can be shared using a combination of informed consent, anonymisation and controlling access to data. If your data includes sensitive or confidential data , see the University’s research ethics pages for guidance. Further information and training about collecting and sharing personal research data is available from the Library’s researcher development programme My Research Essentials' online resource Start to finish: Personal data.
How do I prepare my data for sharing?
Good research data management practices ensure that your data is easy to share and easy to access. This begins with data management planning and continues throughout your research project. Choosing the right file format can help ensure research data remains usable and accessible and will make sharing data easier. My Research Essentials also provides training on good research data management.
Documentation and metadata
To help you, and possibly others, make sense of your data in the future, you should ensure that sufficient documentation and metadata are recorded alongside your data. This may include descriptors of the data, how it is organised, file formats, and access conditions.
For guidance on what to consider in advance of eThesis submission see Prepare your eThesis. For further information about how to share your data see eThesis submission: research data and Sharing data. For any other assistance please contact us.