Data management is becoming increasingly important to researchers in all fields. The E-Science Working Group designed a survey to investigate how researchers at Northwestern University currently manage data and to help determine their future needs regarding data management.
A 21-question survey was distributed to approximately 12,940 faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral candidates, and selected research-affiliated staff at Northwestern’s Evanston and Chicago Campuses. Survey questions solicited information regarding types and size of data, current and future needs for data storage, data retention and data sharing, what researchers are doing (or not doing) regarding data management planning, and types of training or assistance needed. There were 831 responses and 788 respondents completed the survey, for a response rate of approximately 6.4%.
Survey results indicate investigators need both short and long term storage and preservation solutions. However, 31% of respondents did not know how much storage they will require. This means that establishing a correctly sized research storage service will be difficult. Additionally, research data is stored on local hard drives, departmental servers or equipment hard drives. These types of storage solutions limit data sharing and long term preservation.
Data sharing tends to occur within a research group or with collaborators prior to publication, expanding to more public availability after publication. Survey responses also indicate a need to provide increased consulting and support services, most notably for data management planning, awareness of regulatory requirements, and use of research software.