University of Oregon

Research Data Management

Need to write a data management plan?

See the basic outline for a data management plan and best practices/guidelines.

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UO Services for Data Management

Make use of UO services specifically for research data management:

Basic data management steps you can take

1. Back up your data regularly

Talk to your IT support group about what backup systems are available. Don't rely on external hard drives (if your office has a theft, fire or water damage, you are at risk of losing your data). A scheduled backup to a system outside of your office (preferably at least in a different building) can help protect data from catastrophic loss.

2. Document your data

Whether you use a lab notebook, or text files, or something more complex, describe the data. This will help you find and understand the data later on, and the information can make it easier for others to understand and use your data when you share it.

  • describe the experiment
  • equipment used, settings, protocols and procedures
  • how the data was transformed from raw to any derivative forms
  • data cleanup steps, if any, error codes, etc.

3. Use non-proprietary data formats

There are preferred formats for data that will make it much easier for you to open data files in a few years' time, or sooner, when that proprietary software is abandoned in favor of something else. Some formats make it easier for you to share the data with colleagues as well. If you must use a special system for collecting/creating the data, try to convert it to a more open format for storage, archiving, and sharing.

4. Organize your data and use version control

If you don't have an electronic lab notebook or other system for managing research data, use folder and file naming conventions to organize your files. Version control will help you keep track of a file's history.


Maintained by: Jonathan Cain
University of Oregon Libraries
1501 Kincaid Street Eugene, OR
T: (541) 346-3053
F: (541) 346-3485
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