• Wong Shu Min

Data Management and Sharing: Should you be concerned?

We all know the importance of backing up our data, but how many of us actually practise this conscientiously? Too often the thought of losing files does not occur to us until tragedy strikes. This can occur as easily as having your data corrupted, misplacing your hard drive, or losing your sole physical copy.

Data loss can be easily avoided by depositing in the institutional repository. According to the NIE Research Data Management Policy (RDMP), all data related to a research project is to be retained for a period of ten years after publication or upon project completion.

Appropriate documentation is also crucial to protecting the integrity of your research. Researchers are required to create a data management plan prior to the start of a research project. This formal document will outline descriptive, technical, administrative, use, and preservation metadata. This entails how the researcher plans to collect data, software and technology that will be used to process the data, and file formats of the data, to name a few. Increasingly, grant or publishing policy also requires access to the dataset of a paper to verify findings. By depositing in an institutional repository, researchers will be able to fulfil the funding mandates or publishers’ requirements.

Depositing in an open access data repository can also facilitate data sharing, leading to higher citation rates and collaboration opportunities.

With all these advantages, how then does one go about depositing and archiving their data? Here are some common concerns raised by researchers:

Here is why they need not be:

Competitive advantage

A common concern for early career (and experienced) researchers is the fear that data sharing will lead to other researchers stealing their "scoop", or publishing ahead of them, thus hurting their own career advancement. In an article published by Times Higher Education, Sam Schwarzkopf argues that the fear of being "scooped" is misplaced because successful academic careers continue to be determined by traditional citation metrics and high-impact journals publishing. Depositing your data in an open access repository increases the visibility of your research output and allows you to assert ownership over your data, methods, and ideas. When your dataset is cited by other researchers, this can help you raise the profile of your research in the long run.

Nature of Dataset

Another question often raised is how to deposit evolving data. The NIE Data Repository allows versioning, and tracks the audit trail of changes made to the deposited dataset. This evolving dataset can be kept unpublished until the paper it is tied to is assigned a DOI by the publisher or published. This is however optional, as only the depositing the final dataset is mandatory.

It is also advisable to budget for digitisation costs if you plan to archive data that is stored in non-digital format. This can be planned at the outset of your research project.


In accordance with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), researchers cannot release personal information that may have been gathered in the process of their research. Researchers are advised to plan and budget for the anonymization of their data, as well as obtain consent from participants to publish the data from the study.

Legal and Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

It is a good practice to obtain permission from the copyright owner if you plan to create a derived dataset. Get in touch with the corresponding author to verify permission for use in your own research. You would not want to find that you are unable to publish your data after all the work you have done!

If you discover a commercial application for your data, you would not want to compromise it by publishing. However, you can still publish the parts of your dataset that would not affect your application.

If you have further questions, you can have them answered at the talk “Raising your Research Visibility with Open Research Data: Presentations & Panel Discussion” on 24 October, 9.30 AM , Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre (NTU).

This event is organised by NTU Libraries and NIE Library, in celebration of Open Access Week.

To find out more about the programme and speakers:



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