Universiteit Leiden

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Before your research

Effective data management practices need to start with a thorough preparation. When you carefully plan the various ways in which data need to be stored and be shared, this can save much time during and after the actual research project.

While writing a research proposal, it is useful to make a good estimation of the data management facilities that will be required. It can be advantageous, for instance, to investigate whether or not the research can be conducted on the basis of data that are already available. It is important, furthermore, to make an estimation of the nature and the extent of the data to be produced. When it is clear that the study will generate large quantities of data, this usually demands specific data management facilities. This is similarly the case when studies make use of personal data, or data which are otherwise sensitive in nature. Studies which involve international or interdisciplinary collaboration often need to ensure that their shared data remain findable and accessible for all participants. Evidently, such specific facilities can have considerable implications for the overall costs of the research project.

The Centre for Digital Scholarship (CDS) can provide support, firstly, during the initial planning of the research project. It can offer advice on how to comply with the various data management requirements, formulated by Leiden University, by funders such as NWO or H2020, or by publishers. The CDS can explain how sensitive data can be protected. Tailor made advice may be given in collaboration with Leiden University’s Data Protection Officer. The CDS can give advice on the various facilities and services that can be used during research projects, as well as on the archives that can secure the long term preservation of data. The decisions that have been taken at the beginning of the project often determine whether the data will be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (or FAIR) at the end the project.

Policies and requirements

Leiden University had adopted a regulation for Data Management in April 2016. The main general requirements are:

  • All research projects must have a data management plan before the start of the project.
  • During the research, data must be stored securely, which means that the integrity, availability and, if required, confidentiality of the data are guaranteed.
  • After the project research data must be managed in such a way that they are findable, accessible, assessable, re-usable and sustainable.
  • Data must be archived according to international guidelines for at least 10 years.

The regulation is in line with most research funders' requirements.

Data Management Plans

Leiden University has its own template for data management plans. Funders often have a template of their own. Although the use of the template is not mandatory, we recommend you use it to gather all the information required. You are asked to provide information on the type of data, the method of collection, the format and the documentation of the data for instance. It also includes sections on facilities that are used, legal or ethical reasons (not) to share data, and on the way data is shared and preserved in the long term.


Costs for data management made during a research project can be inserted into a proposal’s budget. These may be costs related to temporary storage, to the anonymisation or the transcription of data, or to the curation of data before sustainable archiving. The National Coordination Point for Research Data Management has published a guide with activities and ways to calculate the costs.

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