Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
USC logo

Research Data Management

What is research data?

Universities have many definitions of "research data".  The USC Research Data Management - Procedures uses the following:

"...any data collected during research that could be used to validate the research findings and/or facilitate the reproduction of the research. This includes data in all forms (e.g. electronic, lab notes, surveys, field notes, datasets, audio recordings, test results)."

Research data may also include provenance information about the data, such as how, when or where it was collected, and with what (for example, instrument). It may also include the software code used to generate, annotate or analyse the data.

Why should research data be managed?

Planning for your data management needs at the start of your project will save you time and resources in the long run.

  • Preserve your data: Damaged drives, new operating systems and upgraded software can render your data useless, while you still need it.
  • Increase your research efficiency: Have you ever had a hard time understanding the data that you or your colleagues have collected? Documenting your data throughout its life cycle saves time because it ensures that in the future you and others will be able to understand and use it.
  • Document and explain your data: Managing and documenting your data throughout its life cycle ensures that the integrity and proper description of your data are maintained.
  • Meet grant requirements: Many funding agencies and journal publishers now require that researchers retain and properly archive data which they collect as part of a research project. Some also require that the data is made accessible externally.

Consider the following

Before, during and after your project, you should be thinking about your data and how you are storing it, the format you are storing it in, and any long term preservation implications...

Before you start your research data management planning process, you should familiarise yourself with the following documents.

Consider the following questions when planning for your project data requirements:

  • Does someone already have the data that you want?
  • Where will you store the material you find in your environmental scan/literature review?
  • What volume of data will you be generating?
  • What form will the data be in?
  • Is there a particular format or tool that needs to be used?
  • Is there any data storage charges?
  • Does the data need to be securely stored for confidentiality?
  • Will the data need to be shared - either within USC or externally?
  • What are you going to do with the data in the future?
  • If you wish to share your data, do you need to get the appropriate ethics clearances before you begin?
  • In a cooperative activity, is an agreement about the future of the research data required?

Use the documents above to help guide you through the planning process.

Complete a USC Research Data Materials and Management Plan

If you are planning on collecting any research data, it is now a requirement that you complete a USC Research Data Management Plan (RDMP) before you commence your research. The RDMP has been developed based on best practice principles and once completed, should be a part of your research documentation and updated as required. A copy should also be stored with the research data.

​Once completed, submit the plan to the USC Research Data Registry at

NOTE: If you are applying for an ARC Discovery or Linkage grant, changes to the application form now require you to provide an outline of your data management plan. The outline should describe your plans for the management of data produced as a result of the proposed research, including but not limited to storage, access and reuse arrangements.

More information can be found on the ANDS Guide to Filling in the Data Management Section in ARC Grant Applications.

Apply for data storage

Depending on the type of data you are planning on collecting, you may need to apply for data storage.

Please use the decision point matrix and view the benefits and limitations of each storage option before applying for storage.

If you require R Drive data storage, complete the relevant section in the Research Data Management Plan. If you plan on storing your data elsewhere, you will need approval beforehand. Details about the Location of Research Data and Materials form can be found at the bottom of the policy.

During the project, you should continually review and revise your data storage protocols:

  • Your data should be backed up regularly, with one backup stored at a separate location.
  • How can you migrate your data to new software versions if you upgrade?
  • How will you manage version control in your data?
  • Do you have consistent file naming protocols?
  • Do you have metadata and descriptors for your data files?
  • Is a key for coding required?
  • Does the data need to be password protected for security and privacy issues?

Update your Plan annually

On an annual basis, you will be sent a reminder from the USC Research Data Registry team to review and update your USC Research Data Management Plan if necessary. If there are any changes to your plan, simply complete a new one and send it to The details will be updated in the USC Research Data Registry.

At the conclusion of your project, consider the following:

  • What is the retention period for your data as specified by your grant, sponsor or funding body?
  • Are there any data requirements for potential publication?
  • Is there an agreed archiving practice if the project was a joint cooperative?
  • Who "owns" the research data?
  • Are there any ethics agreements that relate to privacy or sharing of the data?
  • Are there any intellectual property or licensing agreements that relate to the sharing of the data?
  • What are the long-term storage implications?
  • Can you maintain appropriate versioning for progressive software upgrades?
  • Who manages the dataset?
  • Who has access to the data when you leave USC?
  • What disposal and destruction strategy is in place for your data?

You will be required to examine the data that has been collected, and decide what needs to be kept for archiving purposes. The Research Data Management Plan will need to be revised for a final time and the record will be updated in the USC Research Data Registry.

If you wish to share your data, a record will also be published in the USC Research Bank, so that it appears alongside your publications, and also on Research Data Australia to allow reuse, citation and collaboration with other researchers nationally and internationally.

© University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia | ABN 28 441 859 157 | CRICOS Provider No. 01595D