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Data Management for Wits: Researcher Data Services for Wits Students and Staff

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

Data Services for for Wits Students and Staff


Is to be comended for making data free from reports and PDF. The data cleaning described is significant work.


" Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), and from universities' published annual financial statements. Data from HEMIS are checked and, where necessary, corrected by CHET in consultation with DHET prior to publication."

The Library offers the following services

  • Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. It can be as simple as the author, date, and title. With data, it typically involves the description of the type of data collection methods, variables.

    We can clean the data.

    We then attach data to formal metadata schema's to provide Digital object identifier(DOI).

    We can help choose and attach machine and humanly readable data licenses to offer different degrees of data access

    We can advise on data privacy requirement and protection of University and researchers intellectual property for the completion of ethics applications.

    Data publication

    We advise on journal and funder policies

    We can format data for publication, add metadata help with Data Availability Statements.

    • We promote open Science Framework(OSF).We can help you register the project and submit preprints in open science.

  •  We can fill in templates and checklists that may be demanded publication or by funders in order to show that standards have been met.

    •Training and testing Software

    ◦We test  software for data management on test datasets and in wits networks

  • ◦We organize training for all free software and some paid software.

    ◾We can also source training for any paid data management software

    ◦We give general workshops on data management skills, software choices and ethical compliance.

Data Services Librarian

Data repository: We offer archive and repository services to meet funder requirements. Our repositories are registered institutional repositories and we meet security standards. We archive the data in long-term formats as well as for accessibility. Our Archives are deposited in Archivematica and in Preservation Standard Metadata. Long-term preservation is expensive so we apply standards to make a decision around which datasets will be kept and for how long. If you think your data might be of historical value, please contact us and we will asses it.

Step by Step if you deposit yourself

Go to

*Click on My Account – see login or register
*Click on the register – add an email address (will get notification via email to choose a password)

*Under Communities - click on relevant Faculty, the School

*Click on “Submit a new item to this collection”

*Fill in field boxes as required. Some are compulsory. Make sure you enter as much information about the work as possible with keywords so that it is searchable via Google and other search engines. You need to choose the data availability  carefully

*Click on the license at the end and submit
*Email from Wired space confirming unique handle number

hb. Wits Bio informatics"


They are "responsible for teaching & training,research, and service in bio informatics, and we work with colleagues across the University with interests in bio informatics and  computational biology.Wits Bio informatics provides a number of services for the Wits and broader bio informatics community.


We have the capacity to provide some consulting for projects which require bio informatics, including tool and technique advice and some training. For significant help, we would expect to become research collaborators or make some other arrangement. Projects which require significant bio informatics expertise should be discussed with us at the proposal stage. Please see our guidelines and service request form.


We have a number of online tools available for bio informatics. Our wEMBOSS server is used for training as well as by researchers who need to use bio informatics tools. We also run a Galaxy service. We also develop our own tools. The Genesis a tool can be used to display PCA and structure/admixture charts for population studies based on genotype data. We also have a collection of other scripts that can be used to help GWAS and population studies.Wits health Sciences also offers  Bio statistics support and general training (see the training tab)

These are specifically directed to Health Sciences and are Clinical data management. There is also a Hub with software on the medical campus and some software training.

Humanities Graduate Center

They offer courses in data methods and qualitative approaches to text data.

If you want to Collect data at or from wits then we have the forms.


FORM A Request from Masters & PhD students or staff to conduct research

FORM B Questionnaire Request to conduct research

FORM C Request to conduct Research at the University for non Wits

Form and/or any supporting documentation can be emailed to Chantal Wilson

WIReDSpace for Human Data

WIReSpace: Is Wits Institutional Repository on DSpace, where researchers can upload their research outcomes and also some researchers or student can read that research. The E-research Office also provide for data transfers and has software for that purpose. We can also secure transfers
GBIF  For Enviromental and Biological Data

"publish your biodiversity data to GBIF and the world using the Canadensys repository. This repository is powered by the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) and maintained by us, which allows you to upload, standardize, publish and register your data in 7 steps, without the hassle of installing and maintaining a program..Click here!"

Figshare has a repository. Wits has a test site currently running . If you want to join the pilot contact data services. Figshare focuses on citation.

Wits High performance computing

The High-Performance Computing (HPC) Interest Group trains students in the faculty of Science to use specialized computational hardware for problems that are too resource heavy for desktop computers. Special attention is given to algorithms relevant to HPC.MSS manages numerous HPC resources which students use. If you are not in the designated courses, then you will have to make special applications and cost may apply.

They offer services but please remember they are not always free

High-Performance Computing From Bio Informatics specifically for the Bio informatics Community               

We run a research computer cluster which is available to members of the bio informatics community. The cluster contains 450 cores and roughly 350TB of data storage. We have some large memory machines (768GB). This is also a node on the SA National Compute Grid.

Wits has several Ethics committees for human , medical and animal research. 

Ethical issues impose additional management issues such as security or the use of enclaves. Sensitive data can be shared in a controlled manner which complies with the funder’s requests,as well as ethical requirements.In most cases,we do not publish the data with the metadata, rather we link the datasets in specialized storage to the metadata.

Ethics committee also ask for forms to be filled in which are similar to Data Management plan . We suggest that you first create a data management plan then use that to fill in the ethics online forms. 

Remember that the ethics committees are there to help you, They are also willing to give advice and opinions for difficult ethical matters. Remember, Good research is Ethical and Ethical Research tends to be Good.


Innovation Support / Technology Transfer
Wits has a office dedicated to Innovation and Patents .They are the best place to get legal advice. They can also screen your research in the early stages and give advice on how to proceed. They are also important to consult before making a data sharing plan. You can find them at the Professional Development hub

011 717 9370
Fax: 011 717 9375
Physical address: 92 Empire Road, Braamfontein, 2001
Postal address: PO Box 514, Wits, 2050

                                      Research Support         

ON Copyright and Related Issues We have a dedicated Librarian

This guides are useful guide on international, regional and South African copyright and related issues.

Copyright Guidelines for Staff & Students of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS)

This Guide provides definitions, legislation and procedures for copyright clearance for teaching and research purposes.

Backup for Students

Dropbox,Facebook,WhatsApp’s and Twitter;they  run the contents  of our lives and they  simplify our lives. You can use them to backup of your personal information.So it natural to use them for your studies or to backup your research

                                                    BUT ________________________________ DON'T

Each of those applications are free because, in agreeing to the services,you have agreed to them mining or harvesting your personal data.That can be a big problem in itself.Remember you are the owner of your own data  and should control the use of that data.For example  see Facebook Says SEC, FBI Probing Cambridge Analytical Incident.

The problem is that Dropbox,Facebook,WhatApp's and Twitter "Knows Everything About You".And when you have research data , they know everything about your research.That not how we do research.  ESPECIALLY not research on other people.If you use Dropbox to store an interview that interview is no longer as confidential as it should be.Its also might not be possible to patent that advance or idea any longer because unintentionally you have shared it.

To avoid this happening, Wits has negotiated a deal with wits Google apps for education. Here you know that data is held safely in the university data center. It looks like standard  Google but it's not, the university negotiated the T & Cs especially You get up to 1 gig. , if you need more, we can help you write a motivation.

If you are doing research in Health Sciences, we don't have to tell you about confidentiality. But Clinical data Management demands so much, So use   REDCAP

They say that they make it easy to do the right thing and they really do. Think of it as a private, secure Survey Monkey on Steroids.  They are specifically organized to manage clinical trials and they do it very well but they can work with more simply with surveys and basic studies. If you require assistance please contact Wits REDCap Administrator. or look at the training site which is comprehensive. They also run courses


E-research office works with researchers before grants are applied for and with grant-funded researchers to provide resources to enable a researcher to fulfill the conditions of the grant.  If you don't have a grant, the office can help you apply.
The library and E-research office work together to help you make a data management plan ( currently the NRF data management plan is in development and is a pilot version, however, it is active.).The data supporting the publication will need to be deposited then the type and kind of data publication need to be decided on. If you are doing a larger or ongoing project then you will probably have to make a plan to deposit a set of data rather than versions or subsets.
This data needs to be deposited in the university repository, whether or not the full text of the paper is published or under embargo (i.e. access restricted).

The contact person is for E-Research Is 

Taariq Surtee
Tel: +27 11 717 9968