Book reviews

Managing and Sharing Research Data

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    Clive Sims
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    Managing and Sharing Research Data

    by

    Louise Corti, Veerlie Van den Eynden, Libby Bishop & Mathew Woollard.

     

    Corti L, Van den Eynden V, Bishop L & Woollard M. Managing and Sharing Research Data. (2014) London. Sage. Pp 222. Reviewer: Clive Sims.

     

         This is a little book but do not be put off by its size, its 222 pages are absolutely crammed with vital information for modern-day researchers, whether beginners or experienced, research supervisors and research managers. Increasingly research funders in the UK, USA and across Europe are implementing data management and sharing policies to maximize openness of data, transparency and accountability of the research they support. This book gives the reader the essentials necessary to comply with these policies. It consists of eleven self-contained chapters followed by an over-arching conclusion, a glossary of abbreviations, essential given the subject matter, and a comprehensive index. Each chapters ends with a useful set of exercises so that readers can assess their knowledge and skills. There is also an accompanying website with additional exercises and links from the U.K. Data Archive at http://ukdataservice.uk.ac/manage-data/handbook/.

         The chapter headings are self-explanatory and each chapter is self – contained, with a wealth of information on the topic in hand. There is a logical progression from the first chapter, entitled ‘The Importance of Managing and Sharing Research Data’, though to the final chapter on ‘Publishing and Citing Research Data’. Between these are chapters on ’The Research Data Lifecycle’, ‘Research Data Management Planning’, ’Documenting and Providing Context for Data’, ‘Formatting and Organizing Data’, ‘Storing and Transferring Data’, ‘Legal & Ethical Issues in Sharing Data’, ‘Rights Relating to Research Data’, ‘Collaborative Research: Data Management Strategies for Research Teams and Research Managers’ and ‘Making Use of Other People’s Research Data: Opportunities and Limitations’. All of these are essential reading, given the increasing demands by research funders and by publishers that original data should be deposited in archives following recent scandals involving dubious or utterly dishonest research practices. As these depositories increase the authors, who are all experienced data managers at the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex, have recognised a trend for them to link together and envisage this trend continuing and increasing. Thus this book is all the more timely in that it provides a vade mecum of the information the reader needs to be able to fully participate in this trend, from depositing and safeguarding their own data through to accessing and utilising previously collected data from other researchers.

         As the authors say in their conclusion, research practices are continually evolving and building on the work of others. The preservation of research data with easy accessibility through the medium of the World Wide Web and the internet generally is one of the major keys to future growth and evolution, particularly as funders are increasingly mandating open access to research data and governments demand transparency in research. To meet these demands researchers must improve & enhance their data management skills, not least in order to fulfil their ethical obligation to future generations to harness the opportunities of the digital age to “open up research and data for new, more and better science.”

         I cannot commend this book enough to researchers in all fields of science, not just the social and biological sciences, at whatever stage they may be in their career. Although each chapter is self – contained I would recommend initially reading the chapters in sequence in order to gain a full picture of the processes involved in managing and sharing data. Thereafter this book will be an essential work of reference to be frequently consulted, not least for the useful links in each chapter. I have learned a lot and ‘Managing and Sharing Research Data’ has certainly fired up my enthusiasm.

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