Introduction to Research Data Management


Hi, my name is Cameron Cook and I’m the Digital Curation Coordinator for the UW-Madison Libraries and Chair of Research Data Services. A large part of my job is helping students and researchers manage their data and digital projects effectively and ethically in order to avoid risk and ensure access to those data and digital projects over time. I also help ensure that those outputs are shared broadly, are more discoverable to other students and researchers across the world and that they are preserved for future users to reuse and innovate upon. In this micro course, we will provide an introduction to the essentials of good research data management. We will discuss what research data is, the policies and regulations that impact it, considerations for sensitive data and data citation, and then finish with some data management best practices that you can incorporate into your research workflows immediately. Building in good research data management practices can seem like adding a lot of tedious work to your research. However, taking the time and effort to build in good habits and practices right now can only benefit you in the long run. First, and perhaps more importantly, good data management is one of the building blocks to ensuring research integrity. Meaning that, having well-described data and research processes help the reproducibility and reusability of your work over time. Which can also lead to greater impact of your work and new collaborations and research opportunities for you. At a basic level though, good data management practices have some really practical benefits. Good data management can minimize the risk of data loss, can help with data quality and increases the efficiency of working with your own data. Finally, if you ever have questions about data management, data sharing or archiving, please feel free to reach out to me directly. You can also contact Research Data Services. We are an interdisciplinary group of librarians, researchers and staff that can help answer your questions around these kinds of topics. We are a completely free resource to you here as a student and to anyone else in the UW-Madison community. We can have the most impact during the planning phases of your projects. So if you can, reach out then. But please feel free to reach out at any point of your research project and with any question you might have. I hope you find this micro course useful.


Throughout your academic and professional career, your work will likely involve the collection, reuse, and sharing of different types of data. Data, much like any other product of your research, requires good management practices to ensure the quality of your work at the end of a project. Building good data management habits early on will ensure that your work is more accurate, reproducible, and potentially more impactful over time.

This micro-course will provide an introduction into some research data management essentials. We’ll cover the reasons to invest time and effort into good data management and introduce best practices that you can start building into your research process immediately.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this micro-course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the importance and benefits of research data management
  2. Identify UW-Madison tools and resources to assist with your data management while on campus
  3. Articulate introductory data management best practices:
    • Establish effective file naming conventions and folder organization
    • Understand the importance of describing your data and project
    • Explain the difference between storage and backup and select appropriate tools for both
    • Identify and use sustainable file formats when appropriate