In the interest of verifiability, good data management is essential. For this reason, as from 1 September 2014, researchers from the Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE) are required to upload information after finishing their data collection and upon acceptance of a paper. PhD candidates are required to complete RDM before they are admitted to their thesis defence.
According to The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice1 as described by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the following principles and best practices for scientific practitioners can be distinguished: scrupulousness, reliability, verifiability, impartiality, and independence. The principle of verifiability implies that “Whenever research results are publicized, it is made clear what the data and the conclusions are based on, where they were derived from and how they can be verified.” (see The Netherlands Code of conduct for Scientific Practice. Principles of good scientific teaching and research. Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), 2004, revision 2012, 2014).
Purpose of research data management
The storing and archiving of these documents serves multiple goals. Firstly, it is an extra safeguard against the loss of data files. Secondly, it can help to solve possible concerns of careless data analyses or reporting, or fraud. Thirdly, the research institute is the official owner (or co-owner) of the data and thus obliged to have the disposal of the data.
In case of an official request, the research institute will decide whether the data are made available in accordance with official regulations. The uploaded data will not be made available to third parties without consulting the researcher.
When to upload data
After finishing the data collection of a study, RICDE researchers must submit the following documents to the Data Management Depository:
- a research protocol or research plan,
- data file containing the raw data of the study, and
- code book that describes what the data means.
When a paper is accepted for publication, the following documents should be submitted to the Data Management Depository:
- the final processed data file(s),
- the accompanying scripts, and
- PDF of the accepted paper.
Description what the data means
The script files should give a full description of how the results that are described in the paper can be obtained. That is, for example, all syntax files (e.g., SPSS syntax) that are needed to obtain the processed data file(s) from the raw data file, and all syntax files that are needed to run the statistical analyses that are reported in the paper. In case no computer program syntax is available (e.g., because data were processed by hand, or through the program menu), then please describe the necessary steps in an accompanying document. A manual is available on intranet.
The regulations described are minimum requirements. Researchers can of course upload additional information, such as the names of all persons involved in the study and their respective roles (e.g., data collection, statistical support, etc.), a description of deviations from the original study design or procedures as described in the original research protocol, informed consent forms, raw data (e.g., transcription of interviews), etc.
Storage of non digital data
According to The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice, raw research data are stored for at least five years. Study materials that cannot be stored electronically in the Data Management Depository (e.g., paper, tapes), will be stored and managed centrally by the department “Documentaire Informatievoorziening”, DIV.
For more information on research data management at RICDE, please consult Research Data Manager Harry Garst: firstname.lastname@example.org.