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Research Data Management: Introduction

Introduction to Research Data Management

ECU's Research Data Management Policy defines research data as "facts, observations or experiences on which an argument, theory or test is based." and states that "The responsible conduct of research includes the proper management and retention of the research data, in alignment with the requirements in Section 2 of the Australian code for the responsible conduct of research (Australian Government, 2007)."

Institutions and individuals are discovering the benefits to planning and documenting data management. The amount of data to be collected (size of files), security of data collected, responsibilities and ownership of data is being considered at an earlier stage of the research lifecycle. Both national and international funding bodies increasingly require researchers to provide evidence of appropriate data management and curation in grant applications.

ECU researchers are encouraged to integrate sound data management practices into their projects from the Pre-research stage. The Research Ethics Requirements and Research Data Management Planning processes address interrelated issues. ECU's Research Integrity provide further information about research management at ECU.

Why is Metadata important to Research Data Management?

Recording accurate and useful metadata from the outset of your research project will not only make it easier for you to find, access and analyse the data as the project continues but will also make the completion of data management plans and grant applications quicker and easier. Publishing your data as a supplement to a journal article or as a standalone dataset is also much simpler and more useful to the research community if relevant metadata has been recorded throughout the data collection stages.

What is Metadata?

Metadata can be described as structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource (National Information Standards Organization (NISO). Understanding metadata)

  • Descriptive metadata describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords, for tables: column and row names, etc.
  • Structural metadata indicates how compound objects are put together, for example, how pages are ordered to form chapters.

  • Administrative metadata provides information to help manage a resource, such as when and how it was created, file type and other technical information, and who can access it.


When creating a file name keep the golden rule in mind: Will this name allow me to find, and understand what the file contains in 6 months time?


Edith Cowan University has accepted the requirements of the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research and also abides by other relevant Federal and State Government requirements governing integrity and ethical practice in research.

Members of the University undertaking research are required to be aware of the provisions of the Code, relevant University policies and guidelines governing responsible practice in research, as outlined below.

ECU Framework for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Section 1 - General principles of responsible research
Section 2 - Management of research data and primary materials
Section 3 - Supervision of research trainees
Section 4 - Publication and dissemination of findings
Section 5 - Authorship
Section 6 - Peer review
Section 7 - Conflicts of interest
Section 8 - Collaborative research across institutions

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