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Data Management for Wits: Basic Research Data Mangement for undergraduates

The following is general advice,data varies hugely between types of research and projects.

If this is all making your head spin JUST answer the question below

To prevent data loss and version control issues that can derail your degree, think through the following issues.

  • What type of data is being produced in what file formats ie a text document?
  • How much data are being produced, and at what growth rate? Will the data change?
  • How long should the data be retained and where will it be saved, where will the backup be?
  • How will you organize yourself and your work  ie  file naming conventions between you and your supervisors
  • Do you need data identifiers, is the data large, likely to get confused or confidential
  • Are there tools and software needed to render the data? Do you have those tools and can you keep using them ie when does the license  expire? What if your laptop dies?
  • Who controls the data? who has rights, influences, responsibilities?
  • If more than just you will see, edit, translate, transcribe, run statistics or examine the data then you need to make sure you have planned for all of these people to be involved
  • Are there privacy, legal, ethical, or security requirements? If so how will you give effect to them PRACTICALLY
  • Does the funding agency require a data sharing policy, data management plan, or other information?
  • Are the data properly described (meta-data) and the overall project documented? Your proposal might be insufficiently detailed if it was written before data collection started.
  • How will you store and backup the data?
  • Do you need to publish the data, if so where and how?

I dont like threes

Backup simply means you have all the data you collected in its original format. You can also use visioning control software that automatically creates backups. Don't forget that Zotero can do more than collect paper, it can also hold all your drafts and even do very basic data management.


If you are not sure what to do try using the rule of three

SAVE DATA  THREE WAYS IN THREE PLACES IN THREE VERSIONS      Three types of storage  2.local hard drive 

3 external hard drive   with Three types of saving 1 saved version 2 stored version 3 backup version in  Three places

1.Home 2 work 3 the internet

SYNC IT ALL or you will get a VERSION-CONTROL Problem

Ps, We say that unless you are the sort of person that happens to have every last USB stick you ever brought and you keep it in a separate place entirely and you know it will not fail, then USB sticks are for transferring data not storing it.


Depending on the discipline, the nature of a project, and the funding agency, every data management plan is unique.Feel free to download the following template to guide you when writing your plan But know that it might not cover your specific circumstances