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Research Data Management and Open Data

Information and guidance on Research Data Management (RDM) and Open Data.

Research data management

Research data management refers to the practice of organising and maintaining research data throughout the research process. This is an important part of the research cycle because it will ensure that your data is kept safely and securely in line with current data protection legislation. It will also help ensure that your research is organised, richly described and shared as openly as possible.

We offer a service to assist with the management of research data at all stages of the research process, drawing on external and internal support and policies. This reflects LSE’s recognition of research data as an asset to be looked after and shared wherever possible.

What is a Data Management Plan?

The first step in effective research data management is to fill in a data management plan. A data management plan (DMP) is a structured document that requires you to outline key information about your research project. A typical data management plan for master's and undergraduate students would include:

  • Your research question.
  • What kind of data you will be collecting and what methods you will use to collect data.
  • Your plans to anonymise data and protect individuals involved in research.
  • Details of any software or hardware you might use in research.
  • The security and safety of any devices used in research. 

For researchers a data management plan would include all the above information, as well as this additional information:

  • Details of how you plan to safely share data with collaborators, including colleagues external to LSE.
  • Your plans for the long-term sharing and preservation of research data.
  • How you will use rich metadata to make data more discoverable for others. 

How do I fill in a data management plan?

The Digital Curation Centre has an online Data Management Planning tool DMPOnline. There are some pre-existing templates created specifically for LSE researchers, including:

  • Master's and undergraduate students’ template.
  • PhD Researchers template.
  • Researcher's template (postdoctoral researchers and research staff). 

There are also standard templates for the major research funding bodies including the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), ERC (European Research Council), MRC (Medical Research Council), Wellcome Trust and many more. 

When you have filled in your plan, please share it with the data library, either by sharing it directly within DMPOnline, or by downloading it and sending it to us as an attachment.

Further Reading

Open Data

Open data refers to the idea that research data should be made freely available for discovery and reuse. Increasingly funders are stipulating that researchers share their research data outputs as a condition for grant compliance.

At LSE Library we recognise that effective management of research data for long-term preservation and reuse is an integral part of research practice. We also recognise that there are a number of ethical, commercial and security concerns that can limit the sharing of research data. Because of this we work on the principle that research data should be made as open as possible but as closed as necessary.

Why should I share my research data?

There are a number of reasons to share your research data:

  • Ethical considerations - sharing research data is a public good because it helps ensure that research is discoverable to the public. Because the general public funds research via contributions to research councils they arguably have a right to freely discover and access the results of funded research.
  • It helps make data more reusable and reproduceable.
  • By opening your data up to the wider research community, you enhance opportunities for collaboration with your research colleagues
  • There is growing evidence that sharing your research data makes your research more discoverable, which in turn can increase citations and impact.

How do I share my research data?

Most funders will request that data is shared through a recognised data repository. This is because storing research in a specialist data repository ensures a) that data is kept in safe and sustainable storage and b) that data receives a DOI and a citation.

LSE does not have its own data repository and LSE Research Online is only for publications and is not suitable for depositing data. If you are looking for a repository there is a register of data repositories at re3data.org.

Some frequently used repositories at LSE include:

  • ReShare – This is the UK Data Service’s online data repository. ReShare is where ESRC grant holders submit the data from their research grants.
  • Zenodo – Primarily commissioned by the EC to house data from European Research projects, but anyone can deposit in Zenodo. The LSE has a pre-existing community where you can link your deposits.
  • Harvard Dataverse – sponsored by Harvard University but free for use for non-Harvard scholars from all disciplines. 

There are a number of control mechanisms you can use to restrict who can access your data. Different repositories offer different levels of controlled access but broadly will cover: 

Open: Open to all researchers to access, usually without having to register an account with the data repository.

Safeguarded: users are asked to sign a generic, end user license agreement in order to access data.

Controlled/ Closed: data are too sensitive or confidential to be allowed on open or safeguarded access and can only be accessed via special permission from data owner. Usually, data can only be accessed via a secure lab, room or SafePod. For secure access to data at LSE, please see the secure data webpages.

Embargoed: data is locked down for a pre-set amount of time. With many repositories it will be a maximum of 12 months with extensions requiring separate applications to the repository owner.


What should I do if I have concerns about sharing my research data?

Most funders do recognise that there are legitimate commercial, ethical and security considerations that can limit the sharing of research data. However, they do reserve the right to decide when researchers' objections to sharing data are valid and if they do not agree with your reasoning, they may find you non-compliant with the terms of your research grant.

If you have concerns about sharing your research data, we recommend you contact the data library and we can discuss the options open to you and the best way forward.

Further Reading

Data Access Statements

Data access statements are used in published works to link to any data which underpins the publication and lay out the terms for access. According to the UKRI Open Access Policy (2021) data access statements are now mandatory for all in-scope research articles "even where there are no data associated with the article or the data are inaccessible."

What should I include in a data access statement?

  • An explanation of how the data can be accessed, either a link to a recognised data repository (preferable) or a contact email address where the data can be requested. This email address should not be a personal contact address but rather a departmental or shared group email address.
  • Any terms which restrict data access ie, whether the data is open, safeguarded, embargoed etc. You may also wish to include a brief explanation of why data was made available on these terms.
  • A copyright statement which outlines your license type and ownership of the data
  • Credit for any secondary dataset you may have sourced which contributed towards the creation of your own dataset.
  • In circumstances where the data has not been made available you may wish to include a statement about why it couldn’t be shared ie., "the data underpinning this article has not been made available due to the terms agreed with our commercial collaborators."
  • If your research is funded, you should also acknowledge your funder in the statement.

Further Reading


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