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Data storage is important issue for researchers

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Researchers find it very important to be in control of what happens to their data and express a clear need for help in storing the research data they use daily. They also want to control who has access to the data and under which conditions.

These are some of the findings of a review commissioned by SURFfoundation in the Netherlands into recent literature sources from the Netherlands, the UK, elsewhere in Europe, the USA and Australia. The study 'What researchers want' also found that storage and preservation are distinct issues for researchers and that storage of data is a more immediate concern. 

According to the study, several factors play a role in making storage successful. Tools and services must be in tune with researchers’ workflows, which are often discipline-specific (and sometimes even project-specific) and the tools and services must be easy to use. Another observation is that researchers resist top-down and/or mandatory schemes, favouring a “cafeteria” model in which they can pick and choose from a set of services. In addition, researchers must be in control of what happens to their data, who has access to it, and under what conditions. They want to be sure that whoever is dealing with their data will respect their interests.

Another requirement is support. Researchers expect tools and services to support their day-to-day work within the research project. The benefits of the support must clearly visible – not in three years’ time, but now and support must be local, hands-on, and available when needed.

These identified requirements will be be taken further in a new SURFfoundation project, CARDS (Controlled Access to Research Data, Stored securely). In this project, researchers at five universities in the Netherlands will receive support  for the effective management of their research data. The findings will also be available to other universities early 2012.