Data Management 101

Data management involves organizing, describing, and storing your data so that it can be usable to you, your colleagues, and even other researchers in the long term. If integrated into the research process, data management serves the research team rather than being an onerous add-on.

Benefits to Researchers
Managing data can:

  • Save you time in the long run
  • Expand the profile, citation, and impact of your research

Stages of Research and Data Management

Data management is an integral part of research at any stage of your process.

Before Your Research
Haven't started your project yet? Take key steps before getting started so that you can secure the necessary resources for data management, comply with the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy, and save time in the long run. 

During Your Research
If you are in the middle of your project we provide practical data management steps to take during your research process to help streamline your team’s work. 

After Your Research
At the conclusion of your project, find out what you’ll need to do after wrapping up your research project (such as complying with funder or journal data sharing requirements). 


Data management is described as organizing, describing, and storing your data so that it can be usable to you, your colleagues, and even other researchers in the long term. 

Data sharing is the act of making data available for others to use (e.g., the larger research community, institutions, the public) via an established repository.

Data reuse is using data originally collected by another researcher (or secondary data) to answer your own research question. 

FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. These principles outline steps you can take to ensure that your data are usable in the long term.

Take these three steps to get started:

  1. Work on your data management plan using the DMPTool. This will help you comply with the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy
  2. Take advantage of local services at your institution by contacting your library, research office, and or IT department to see what they may be able to offer
  3. Leverage resources tailored to your disciplinesuch as DataWorks! Help Desk, which we are building to provide detailed resources for biology and biomedicine. 

  • DataWorks! is FASEB’s strategic initiative that brings the biological and biomedical research communities together to advance human health through data sharing and reuse. In addition to this Help Desk, our program includes: 
    • DataWorks! Salons are conversation spaces for the biological and biomedical research community to exchange ideas and design effective practices for data sharing and reuse 
    • DataWorks! Prize recognizes biological and biomedical research teams that integrate data sharing and reuse to advance human health 
  • The ELIXIR Research Data Management Toolkit for Life Sciences provides a wealth of guidance tailored to these fields, including guides to managing specific domains of life science data. 
  • The EMBL-EBI (European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute) provides extensive training in data-driven life sciences open to any researcher. 

Yes, some research institutions have services to help you manage your data, comply with requirements, and conduct your research more efficiently. Key services providers may include:
  • Libraries may supply support in the areas of data management planning, metadata standards, data sharing, and archiving
  • Research offices support may be offered with data management planning and policy compliance
  • IT, research computing, or shared core resource facilities offer tools for collecting, storing, and managing data during research 
  • Insitutional Review Boards may offer suport on ethical issues (e.g., sensitive or human subject data)

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