Generally speaking, research data are primary sources. They are factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community to validate or refute research findings. It can consist of qualitative and quantitative variables, and is used to create new knowledge and information after it has been analyzed. Although data is commonly associated with scientific research, the term 'data' is now increasingly being associated with research across various disciplines, encompassing multiple fields, and can take many forms - e.g. images, text, numbers, audio clips, etc. With the widespread use of technology, interest in research data has grown exponentially, and has raised many interesting issues concerning its management. Data created via computers is measured in bytes - e.g. - kilobyte (kb), megabyte (mg), gigabyte (gb), etc.
In the early planning stages of the research cycle, there are important questions to consider, and so developing a checklist to ensure that everything is taken care of, is a good idea. There are several examples of planning checklists available, and this one below is really good example of the types of questions that need to be asked and answered
1. Data Types & Sources: What type of data will be produced?
2. Descriptive Standards & Formats: What standards will be used for documentation and metadata?
3. Access and Use Rights: What steps will be taken to protect privacy, security, confidentiality, intellectual property or other rights?
4. Sharing and Permissions: If you allow others to reuse your data, how will the data be accessed and shared?
5. Preservation: How will the data be archived for preservation and long-term access?