Collect or capture data

In this stage of the research data lifecycle, researchers must ensure that all research data is stored securely and backed up or copied regularly.

Consider the following when planning to store your research data:

What data formats will be used? The choice of format will determine how the data may be used, analysed, backed up, stored and reused in the future. When deciding which format to use consider:

  • Could the hardware, software and media fail or become obsolete within your project timeframe?
  • Would the impact of such a failure be disastrous?
  • How long does the data need to be stored?
  • Is support for the hardware, software or media available at QUT?
  • Is security an issue?
  • Who needs access to the data? Are team members local at QUT or collaborators from other institutions?

Activity – Data formats

In your Data Management Plan list the data formats you will use, include the software and any access requirements (QUT VPN is required to access the DMP Tool off campus).

Recommended storage

The information provided here is introductory and brief. You can view an extended list of storage options under Store digital research data.

Please note: CloudStor is no longer an option for storing research data.

Network storage

When storing data, please follow the 3-2-1 rule:

Keep 3 copies of your files in 2 different locations, with 1 copy off-site ideally in a different geographic zone

  • Master copy: Keep at secure location
  • Working copy: Keep on a reliable/safe device or locations
  • Back up copy: Keep off-site

You should store master copies of your data in QUT's Research Data Storage Service (RDSS), which provides all QUT researchers (staff and Higher Degree Research students) with secure storage for data at the different stages of the research lifecycle, including raw, working and archived data. To access to RDSS submit an IT request online. The Research Data Storage Service provides:

  • large storage capacity for research data
  • easy on-campus and off-campus access to your data
  • controlled access to your data.

You can view an extended list of storage options under Store digital research data.

Network drives may be accessible to a large number of people or can be configured for use by a single user or group of users (contact HiQ for more information). QUT's H and U drives are not recommended for the storage of master copies of research data.

The Office of eResearch provides QUT staff and Higher Degree Research students with specialised advanced computing facilities, storage and support. Submit a request for access and advice to the Help Centre, or apply for an account.

Cloud storage

Please note: CloudStor is no longer an option for storing research data.

QUT OneDrive

Separate from a personal OneDrive account, your QUT OneDrive account may be used for research data storage.

Benefits:

  • Up to 1TB of storage is available to all researchers at QUT.
  • Remote access to research data.
  • Data can be shared with QUT and external researchers.
  • Deleted files in QUT OneDrive can be restored using the self-service previous versions feature.
  • Access permissions easily managed.

Limitations:

  • Not suitable for master copies of research data.
  • Not suitable for sensitive data storage.
  • Access to QUT OneDrive storage will cease when you leave QUT.
  • External researchers need a Microsoft account to access OneDrive.

QUT SharePoint

Where your work forms part of a larger research project that might have its own Teams/SharePoint site, it might be appropriate for some documents to go there. However, that may be subject to any arrangements in the team or project.

Local hard drives

Local hard drives are helpful when using applications that require files to be stored locally with the application, for example, NVivo. Copies of these working or analysis files should be securely stored in QUT's Research Data Storage Service as a backup.

Removable media (not recommended for storage of research data)

While USB drives, external hard drives and memory cards are useful for transporting and capturing data in the field, data collected should be transferred to stable, secure storage as soon as possible. These devices along with CDs and DVDs are at greater risk of being lost or damaged, are not very robust and can be damaged by magnetic fields, water and high temperatures. If portable media are used for transporting copies of data, use only high-quality products and ensure that any confidential data is encrypted or password protected.

Non-digital research data

Data in non-digital formats (e.g. biological samples, analogue recordings, paper artefacts) should be stored in secure facilities located in your school, faculty, institute or an off-campus research facility. Refer to MOPP D/2.8.7 Management of research data and primary materials for more information about dealing with non-digital research records. Visit Store non-digital research data and primary materials for your faculty's Space, Assets and Logistics contact.

Metadata - describe your data

Documenting data and capturing or describing metadata at all stages of the research lifecycle, enables you and others to find, access, interpret, validate and reuse the data. Documentation should provide contextual information for the data so that it can be understood in the future.

Metadata (data about data) can describe individual items or groups of items. Requirements may vary depending on the discipline and type of research being conducted. At the collection stage, documentation and metadata to be captured include:

Study level documentation:

  • context of data collection: project history, aims, objectives and hypotheses
  • collection/generation/capture methods, sampling methods
  • instruments used and calibrations required
  • hardware or software used
  • data scale and resolution, temporal, time or geographic coverage
  • questionnaire copies, interview questions and instructions, test samples
  • quality control processes

Data level documentation including:

  • description of file structures and relationships between files
  • file types and file naming conventions chosen
  • names, labels and descriptions of variables, records and values
  • explanation of codes and classification schemes used
  • provenance information about sources of derived or reference data
Adopted from UK Data Service, (2022).

It will be useful to make a copy of the raw data at collection/generation and use this in the working/analysis stage of your project. Retain a read-only copy of the raw data as both back-up against loss or corruption and evidence of the work you have undertaken.

Types of metadata

  • Descriptive: metadata required for discovery and assessment of the collection, including title, contributors, subject or keywords, study description, list of publications the dataset contributes to and location and dates of the study.
  • Provenance: metadata about the data source, instruments used to collect or generate the data, version tracking and transformations (often including the steps that were applied to produce the data product).
  • Technical and Structural: metadata about file types, software, file size and contents of components e.g. variable names. How the data or its database is configured and how it relates to other data or how components within a set related to each other.
  • Rights and Access: metadata to enable access and licensing or usage rules e.g. negotiated access by contacting the owner or open access via a creative commons licence.
  • Citation: metadata required for someone to cite the data, including a persistent identifier such as a DOI or stable URL, e.g. Creator(s), Publication Year, Title, Publisher, DOI.