Knowing what sort of data you have is often obvious. However, clearly defining your data will help you to make decisions about how to best manage it, including retention and sharing of the data once the research is complete.
The answers to these questions will reveal the different forms that your data might take; the characteristics of the data; and the likely size and potential growth of your data collections. These are important when considering data storage, retention and version control.
Once you've got your data, how are you going to keep track of what is what? Metadata is essential for interpreting the data during the project and later.
Determining ownership and rights can be difficult. Refer to relevant University policies and, if your project is collaborative, discuss and document an agreement with all partners.
Thinking about who is involved with the data will help you make appropriate storage and access provisions. Any decisions and protocols about data management may need to be communicated with these people.
Even if you are at the very beginning of a project, consider what will happen to the data when the project is complete as that will inform the way you manage your data now.
Thinking about how the data will be used by yourself and others, both now and in the future, will help you to plan.
These questions highlight the range of issues you might have to consider in relation to your data. It may be helpful to document your approach for your own reference, for your collaborators' understanding, and for reporting to your research funders.
A data management plan that documents your data management decisions and defines who is responsible will help you. Go to the 'Create a plan' tab of this guide for further help.