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University of Minnesota

Kathryn A. Martin Library

Research Data Management (RDM)

An important component of Research Data Management is performing a data inventory, a brainstorm of all the data that you will collect. Consider the following factors about your data:

  • How will data be collected? In what formats?
  • Will it be reproducible? What would happen if it got lost or became unusable later?
  • Estimated size, growth and updating of data?
  • What tools or software are needed?
  • Will you use pre-existing data? From where?
  • What is your storage and backup strategy?

Components of a Data Inventory

What is it? What does it consist of?
●Title ●How many files
●Author ●Where are they stored
●Description ●File size
●Date created ●Are there multiple versions
Who Owns it? Who can access it?
●Department Owner ● Restrictions in place
●Author ● Users who have access
●Contact (Responsibility) ● Protocol for handling requests
How Secure is it? Why is the data useful?   
Uniqueness • Publications that use the data
● Protections in place
● Back-up locations (2 or more)
● Procedure for format migration
Retention period


Backing Up Data

Data Corruption. Theft. Equipment failure, Lost Files.  It'll never happen to you, right? 

Regardless of how careful you are with your data files, data failure can be catastrophic setback to your research process, resulting in lost time, funding and huge amounts of frustration.  Consider a back up strategy for your data:

Here are some common locations and options that you can use for your data -  




Hard drive

Block Storage

Google Docs

Dept/local server

Active Directory


Flash Drive



Portable Drive/Backup


The above resources are great solutions for raw data without personal data attached to it. When you use Personal Data as part of your data, you'll need to take precautions to secure that information.

Each resource has its benefits and drawbacks.  

  • Local Storage is much more susceptible to theft, damage and environmental failure
  • Networked storage requires certain access privileges and authentication.  
  • Cloud storage is dependent on connectivity, which can be a drawback for field work.

More options can be found a  UMD Network Data Storage.