Answers to commonly asked questions along with links to further online resources can be found below. If you cannot find the answer to your question, please do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation.
What is data?
This is an excellent question! While in common terms it might refer to information stored as zeros and ones on a computer hard disk, at a research institution the definition is usually much broader.
For example, this term includes, but is not limited to, computer programs (code and documentation), computer databases, instrumental outputs, raw numerical results, original biological or environmental samples, photographs, digital images, films, protocols, graphs, and other deliverables produced under sponsored agreements. Research Data also includes any records related to the design, conduct or reporting of the research that would be necessary to reconstruct the reported research results. Research data can be intangible (statistics, findings, conclusions, etc.) and tangible (notebooks, printouts, etc.).
My data is a mess! Can you help?
Yes! But it will likely take some effort on your part. Please contact us to make an appointment and we can evaluate your data needs. We can provide recommendations for cleanup and rescue as well as for incorporating best practices into your research workflow.
What is a Data Management Plan?
The Data Management Plan is a written document that describes the data you expect to acquire or collect throughout a research project, how you will collect, organize, document, and analyze the data, and finally how you will share, publish and preserve the data.
Do I have to share my data?
The answer to this question depends on your funding source. Please see your funder’s website or the Data Management Planning tools as a means to determine your funder’s data sharing requirements.
All my data is in the published article, isn’t this enough?
For some publications this is good enough, but for others you may have to provide supplemental data. For example, you publish a bar graph in the article that shows a summary of your results, but you may also be required to provide the tabular data used to create the figure as supplementary data.
How do I deposit data in a repository?
First you must identify an appropriate repository for your data. Once a repository is identified you must prepare your data for deposit following data management best practices and repository requirements for assigning appropriate metadata, choosing file formats suited for long term preservation, and preparing for ownership and privacy issues. Often it is best to determine these decisions before research begins and write them into a data management plan.
Can I deposit data in the UM Scholarly Repository?
Through the University of Miami Libraries any faculty, staff or student can deposit data into the scholarly repository. This is not yet a self-service data repository and you must contact us to make a deposit request. We will do everything possible to help you prepare for and make the deposit.
Is there a Data Management Plan (DMP) template?
There are several online tools to help you create a data management plan, but there is not one single template. Often the DMP is a written document which guides the research process and is also a part of a grant proposal written to a specific funding agency or institution. Since there are many sources of funding and many research methodologies, there is no general template.
What DMP services exist at the University of Miami?
There are several on campus and online services to help researchers with their data management plans. The University of Miami subscribes to the California Digital Library’s DMPTool which can be used by faculty, students and staff. Both the Library and the Center for Computational Science provide free management plan review services and the Writing Center can provide help for any writing project through their appointment system.
What data backup services exist at the University of Miami?
There are several approaches to backing up your data. Remember, it is best to have three copies of your work at all times. The University of Miami Information Technology provides several cloud based solutions for data storage as well as enterprise backup solutions for researchers with specialized needs.
What is metadata? Can you provide it for me?
Metadata is a description of the data. The idea is to provide sufficient information so that someone with domain knowledge can read the description and use the data without contacting the original researcher. We cannot provide metadata for you, but we can help streamline the documentation process. Please contact us for more information or to make an appointment.
What is an ontology? Do I need one?
An ontology is a term that refers to definitions, relationships and hierarchies in structured metadata that uses controlled vocabularies (got it?). Controlled vocabularies are agreed upon lists of metadata terms that make sharing of metadata easier. The ontology gives the set of terms structure and meaning. Ontologies are discipline specific and are often fine-tuned to sub-discipline levels. Ontologies are used to facilitate machine learning and data discovery. Research their use in your discipline or contact us for further information.
Is there a Data Policy at the University of Miami?
There is limited policy on data governance at the University of Miami. Please see the following sources for relevant policy (hint: search for ‘data’):
- guidelines for data sharing from the Office of Research
- the current faculty manual
- the current graduate student handbook
If you still have questions, please contact us!