Your data management plan should include how to preserve your data.
- Assess the durability of the file formats you will use.
- Account for technology changes and possible hardware failures.
- Consider security and accessibility over five to ten years.
Refer to these points as guidance or use as a checklist:
Ownership and access
- Divide responsibility for data preservation to a member of your research team
- Determine who will need access to your preserved data files. Who will have ongoing responsibility and ownership of the data to avoid lost data if staff move on?
- File formats may become obsolete over time
- Is your format:
- Endorsed and published by standards agencies such as Standards Australia or ISO?
- Publicly documented, i.e. complete authoritative specifications are available?
- The product of collaborative development and consultative processes?
- Widely used and accepted as best practice within your discipline?
- A guide to current robust file formats is the UK Data Archive
- ANDS Guide to File Formats
- Like file formats, software may also become obsolete
- Choose software that is widely used and well supported
- Deakin’s recommended software programs and tools are in the Deakin Software Catalogue
File organisation and file naming conventions
- Organise your files in a tiered folder structure. Use descriptive folder and file names of the contents
- This helps to ensure particular files and data are easily located
- A suggested naming convention is QUT’s Document Naming Convention
Version control is very important. It can be difficult to track changes when many members of a research team have access to the same data files.
- Does the software you are using support version control (e.g. Microsoft Word)?
- If not, you may need to set up explicit rules to ensure version tracking of files
- This could include keeping a single master copy of the files, and including date/times as part of the file names
File store media
- Store your data on a network drive. It is properly backed up and can migrate to other media if needed
- Are you using removable media? Guard against media degradation and move your data onto a network drive
- Ensure you have a robust backup strategy that includes off-site storage
- Many tools and services perform automatic backups at scheduled times. For instance, Windows’ own built-in tools will do this
- Regularly restore and check files. This will ensure that your backup strategy is working as expected
- How long do you need to keep your data?
- Not sure?
At any stage of your project, you can deposit your data in a repository such as Deakin University’s data store, Deakin Research Online (DRO) or a subject-specific data centre or archive. This can be a requirement of the funder or publisher of your research. Some examples of subject-specific archives include: