Some research data management terminology

22 Feb

Terminology in this area is confusing, and is used differently in different projects. For the purposes of a report I’m writing, unless otherwise specified, we will use terminology in the following way:

  • Data management is the handing and care of data (in our case research data) throughout its lifecycle. Data management thus will potentially involve several different actors.
  • Data management plans refer to formal or informal documents describing the processes and technologies to be deployed in data management, usually for a research project.
  • Data deposit refers to placing the data in a safe location, normally distinct from the environment of first use, where it has greater chance of persisting, and can be accessed for re-use (sometimes under conditions). Often referred to as data archiving.
  • Data re-use refers to use made of existing data either by its creators, or by others. If re-use is by the data creators, the implication is that the purpose or context has changed.
  • Data sharing is the process of making data available for re-use by others, either by data deposit, or on a peer to peer basis.
  • Data sharing plans refer to the processes and technologies to be used by the project to support data sharing.

Some JISCMRD projects made a finer distinction between data re-use and data re-purposing. I couldn’t quite get that. So I’m balancing on the edge of an upturned Occam’s Razor and choosing the simpler option!

Does this make sense? Comments welcomed!

6 Responses to “Some research data management terminology”

  1. Andy Turner 22 February, 2013 at 11:58 #

    Hi Chris,

    I think those are clear terms/definitions. I don’t know of these terms being defined differently, but I’m not an expert in data management.

    Some may regard physical objects as data, I think of these more as artefacts, and tend to think of data as digital.

    Data types abound. Processing data implies input and output data. I appreciate you could go into detail with more definitions, but I think these are the primary key terms for data management. Perhaps one you might like to add is data curation 😉



    • Chris Rusbridge 22 February, 2013 at 12:35 #

      Andy, how could I forget data curation 🙂 ! Although it is definitely a term that is used a bit less at the moment..

    • jdcoco 28 February, 2013 at 06:46 #

      Interesting note about physical (non-digital/analog) objects as data. Would you consider they more typically fall under the category of “data documentation” or another type of contextual detail, particularly in hybrid data collections?

    • Andy Turner 18 April, 2013 at 15:10 #

      Imagine if the data itself were: A lacquer or dubplate or mother disc used for music/sound. Cellulose film. An original score or manuscript of some kind. There can be additional information or evidence in something physical, faint impressions images or sounds, dust possibly containing DNA, and other information contained in the medium itself that might reveal its age or something about the environment where it was from or stored. If the data is an artefact, something physical, then there could be much more too it than if it a digital representation although there can still be information hidden in digital representations that still await discovery. As scanners and sensors improve then more details might be gleaned from a physical artefact and as signal processing technologies get more refined, then more information might be gleaned from digital data. I’m not sure what metadata terminology is best to use, but I suspect someone else has given this a lot more thought than me 😉

  2. John Faundeen 22 February, 2013 at 12:55 #


    The terms are concise and on point. There is often the tendency to go into great detail with definitions which often confuses the understanding. Agree with Andy that curation could be added, but my dealings usually use ‘preservation’ in lieu of.


    John Faundeen


  1. Some research data management terminology | Unsustainable Ideas | WindGatherer - weathering the data deluge | - 26 February, 2013

    […] Processing data implies input and output data. I appreciate you could go into detail with more definitions, but I think these are the primary key terms for data management. Perhaps one you might like to add is data curation 😉 …  […]

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