Data management made simple

Keeping your research data freely available is crucial for open science — and your funding could depend on it.

Quirin Schiermeier  Nature Magazine 13 March 2018

When Marjorie Etique learnt that she had to create a data-management plan for her next research project, she was not sure exactly what to do.

The soil chemist, a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, studies the interaction of trace elements in sediments and water. While preparing a grant proposal for the Swiss National Science Foundation last October, she learnt of the funder’s new data rules. These require applicants to provide a written plan for the organization and long-term storage of their research data, to help minimize the risk of data loss and provide guidance for other scientists on how to use the data in the future.

Etique found the task daunting. “Data management is really not my primary skill,” she says. “I had absolutely no idea how to go about it.” She was able to get advice from her supervisor and from ETH’s digital library service. Other researchers might not be so lucky, and might not even know what a data-management plan is — let alone why they would need one and how to produce it. Here, we answer these questions.

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