Helping researchers manage research data

As research becomes increasingly data-intensive, researchers have to sharpen their data management skills. The Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA) lends a helping hand, by providing an online Data Management Planning tool, for sound collection, management, accessibility and preservation of research data.

Data mismanagement

Don’t underestimate the importance of properly managing research data. Just take a look at the video featured above, produced by the NYU Health Sciences Library, telling a data management horror story.

Data mismanagement can make it very difficult for your colleagues to reuse and hence extract greater value from your data. And, if you’re working with say, medical data, you could even risk lives by data mismanagement, making important data inaccessible for further processing and analysing.

Accordingly, research data management is high on the agenda everywhere, not least in South Africa, where a new online data management planning (DMP) tool has just been released for testing.

Promoting good practice

“One of our objectives is to promote good research practice for effective and reliable research data management,” says Angel Shozi, from the DIRISA, the lead software developer on the new DMP tool.

“By giving access to an online data management planning tool we are providing a helping hand to the greater research community. The tool is an essential building block supporting improved data driven research across all disciplines.”

DIRISA, one of the components forming South Africa’s National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System (NICIS), is collaborating with the Network for Data and Information Curation Communities (NeDICC), a network of data stewards that aims to promote the development and use of research data and information curation standards and practices.

Dr Lucia Lötter, chairperson of NeDICC, explains:

“The implementation of the DMP tool is appreciated and welcomed by many research and academic organizations in South Africa. It will save considerable time and effort, while assisting researchers to easily respond to institutional and funder requirements.

“Ultimately, the bigger contribution will be to improve research data management planning and practice throughout South Africa.”


The new tool – DMPonline – is created by the UK’s Digital Curation Centre and adjusted to meet the needs of the South African research community.

The main purpose of DMPonline is to support and guide researchers when preparing the necessary plan for handling the data researchers expects to gather or generate during the course of their research and how the data will be collected, managed, analysed and stored.

It also describes how the data is likely to be shared or published and preserved at the end of the research project.

DMPonline lead software developer Angel Shozi elaborates:

“The DMP tool will significantly help researchers in planning their research to ensure that their data will be well managed.

A nationally accessible DMP tool will not only support efficiency improvements for researchers; it will level the playing field for South African institutions – ensuring that all have equal access to a data management planning tool.”

Published: 02/2016

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