Once your research project is finished, you might be tempted to simply discard your well-organized research data. However, there are some questions you should ask yourself first:
- Are there any legal or institutional requirements for archiving your data? Your research project or university might have policies on data archiving that prescribe what happens to your data after your project ends. If you have worked with informants (e.g. in the context of linguistic fieldwork), you might have ethical or legal obligations to archive your data.
- Even if there are no formal requirements, which of your data could be interesting for you at a later point? Think about the following scenarios:
- You want to build on your previous research in a later project
- You want to present your work in order to promote the publication
- You want to teach a course based on your research
- Even if you are sure that you never want to look at your data again, which of your data could be interesting for other people? Imagine the following cases:
- A student wants to further explore some open questions from your work
- A researcher from a related discipline wants to ask new questions of your data
- Historians want to reconstruct your working process (if you become famous)
Depending on the kind of data you have produced, you will face some choices when it comes to archiving and sharing your data.
- One million drafts vs. one final version. How important is it that people can reconstruct your data gathering process? Is there potential interest in seeing how the data developed over time, or is it mostly important to have access to the final version?
- "As is" or edited. If your data is not already anonymized, you might want to do so before publishing it. If your data is hard to understand without explanation, you might want to add further documentation to it. Also, make sure that your data is free from copyrighted material that you are not allowed to share (e.g. in the case of annotated corpora.)
If you decide that some of your data can be re-used, there are a number of ways you can make that possible. You could, for example:
- Keep secure copies of your data yourself (see Securing Data) and share it on request
- Find out who might be interested in your data and share it with them
However, to guarantee long-term accessibility, you might want to hand your data to someone who will do these things for you. Institutional and topic-specific repositories can host your data, share it with interested parties and even raise its visibility.
Geoscientists may contact FID GEO for research data publication.