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What is research data?

Research data is the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings. This may include: 

  • results of experiments 
  • measurements 
  • code and scripts
  • observations resulting from fieldwork 
  • statistics
  • survey results 
  • interview recordings 
  • artefacts and images 

source: LCRDM, Science Europe


Metadata is ‘data about data’ - standardised and structured information that describes the who, what, where, why and how of your research data. It allows users - including yourself - to understand and track important details of the work. Metadata is a crucial element to make a dataset searchable for both humans and computers and for making your data FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable.  

Different disciplines may have different metadata schemes and standards. Structured metadata are usually added when you deposit your dataset in a data repository such as DataverseNL.

Further reading:

Metadata and describing data (Cornell University)

Disciplinary Metadata (Digital Curation Centre) 

Personal and sensitive data

Examples of sensitive data are data that involve ethical and privacy concerns, copyright, public safety or commercial interests. Researchers who work with sensitive data need to make sure that these are handled in a responsible way. This often involves organisational and technical measures.

Learn more about these measures in the section Privacy & Data Protection.

Last modified:07 June 2022 3.21 p.m.