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Data management

What counts as data will differ across disciplines, but, broadly defined, data is anything that would be needed in the future to validate the results of your research. The management of data collected during the course of your research project is an important element that needs to be planned properly.

Your responsibilities

As a researcher you’re responsible for:

  • keeping clear and accurate records of the research methods and data sources;
  • identifying the ownership of research data and records;
  • managing the storage of and accessibility to research data and records according to ethical protocols and relevant privacy legislation;
  • ensuring the security of research data and records;
  • retaining the research data and records for the required period;
  • maintaining the confidentiality of research data and records; and
  • safely disposing of research data and primary materials when the appropriate period of retention has finished.

When developing your research project, you should discuss with your supervisor and/or your research partners:

  • how you’ll manage your data;
  • where you’ll store your data;
  • how you’ll manage the confidentiality of your data;
  • how long you need to keep your data (this varies across disciplines);
  • if your data should be retained beyond the life of the project and how this will be done; and
  • if your data may have potential for re-use in the future.

In the early stage of your research you should consider all these issues and plan ahead.

Developing a data management plan

Completing a research data management plan is good research practice. As a researcher, you may be required by funding bodies to complete a data plan in the future.

When developing a research data management plan, you must consider the following:

  • What data will be generated or collected?
  • Who owns the data?
  • What are the legal and ethical requirements (if any) that apply to the use of the data?
  • How will you store and back-up the data?
  • What is the volume of data you’ll collect and in what file formats?
  • What do you need to do with the data when the research project is completed?
  • How will you safely dispose of research data and primary materials when the period of retention has finished.

You should refer to your plan regularly and update it if your data management requirements change.

ECU's Data Management Plan Template will help you to develop your plan and is available in the Downloads box.

Further guidance

ECU’s Research Data Management policy provides additional guidance on data management for research students and staff. The policy reflects The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Section Two of the Code outlines the responsibilities of researchers in relating to data.

Training resources

For more information on data needs in particular disciplines the following online resources may be useful:

  • The ECU Research Data Management guide is a good starting point with many links to useful websites. It will give you an understanding of research data as an asset that needs to be managed.
  • The Research Data MANTRA provides useful information for geosciences, social and political sciences and clinical psychology; and
  • CAiRO (Curating Artistic Research Output), a post-graduate teaching module aimed at the creative arts researcher.          


For assistance with research data management issues, contact the Library’s data management staff, Email:

For assistance with research data management and EResearch enquiries, contact EResearch Coordinator, Heather Boyd, Email:

For assistance with data storage issues contact the IT Service Centre, Email:

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