Data Management and Preservation
Managing data does not end with your research project. What will you do with your data following project completion? To preserve your data, select a data repository that will suit your needs. At MD Anderson, you have many options for storing your data in a secure and encrypted environment, including:
- Box.com .
Box is a secure cloud-based storage system provided by MD Anderson to its faculty, staff, students, trainees, and contractors.
- Electronic Data Capture (EDC) Certified Systems .
This site compares features of EDC systems approved by the IRB for electronic data capture during the conduct of research studies at MD Anderson.
- REDCap .
REDCap is a free, secure, web-based application that allows users to build and maintain online surveys and databases which was developed at Vanderbilt University. While REDCap can be used to collect virtually any type of data, it is specifically designed to support data capture for research studies. More information about REDCap can be found at REDCap.
Backing Up Your Data
Backup refers to preserving additional copies of your data in a separate physical location from data files in storage. Backup preserves older copies so you can restore your data if accidental deletion/alteration or a disaster such as fire, flood, or hardware malfunction damages your data in storage.
To safeguard your important data assets, remember both storage and backup are essential.
- A granting agency may require you to retain data for a given period and may ask you to explain in a data plan how you will store data and back it up.
- Storing and backing up your data ensures that it will be there when you need to use it for publications, theses, or grant proposals.
- Good preservation practices help make your data available to researchers in your lab/research group, department, or discipline in the future.
What should you back up?
- Everything that would be required to restore data in event of loss (data/software/scripts/documentation)
How many copies?
- Follow the Rule of 3: Original copy, second local copy, remote copy
- Backup frequency is dependent on the project and the data. Consider how much data you would be willing to lose.
- Full: Back up all files
- Incremental: Back up only files that have changed since last backup (either full or incremental)
- Differential: Back up only files that have changed since last full backup
Test your system: Go through the exercise of accessing a backup to see that the procedure works & you can fully restore your data.