Appraise & Select

Entrance Examination

After research data has been received by your RDC, it will then be reviewed on the basis of various criteria. These criteria and the granularity of the review depend on internal RDC agreements.

In this case, a checklist might be helpful, in which all review details are listed and managed in a structured manner. A distinction is made between formal and content-related aspects of data entry review. If relevant information is missing or documents are not submitted in full, correction by the data providers may be necessary.

Selection of Data to Preserve

Often, a research data policy from a publisher or funding institution dictates whether and which data should be preserved. If this is not the case, the researchers themselves have to consider which data are relevant for potential archiving and/or publication. This decision should depend on potential reuse and data quality.

For the selection and evaluation of research data, it is helpful if certain aspects are considered during the research and submission process. Therefore, advisory services may also be required in this process step.

You can make the submission process easier for researchers who want to submit data to you and make their approach transparent by describing the data selection and publication process on your homepage. An example of this can be found on the website of the Leibniz Institute for Psychology (ZPID) Research Data Center or at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences.

Formal Data Entry Review

The formal review of incoming resources includes the following steps:

  • Are the correct and agreed-upon files being submitted? Were the correct file formats sent? Or were the wrong files accidentally sent?
  • Do the submitted documents match – do they all belong to the same project?
  • Are the data complete, or were some files left out?
  • Were the correct metadata provided?
  • Are the files intact, i.e., can they be opened, and is the content readable?
  • Are the files virus-free?

Usually, certain data documentation must be available for further processing of the submitted data. These may include:

  • A comprehensive report on methods
  • A questionnaire
  • A codebook or a variable report (if available)
  • Information about informed consent or a form used for obtaining the informed consent

Content Data Entry Review

For the content review of incoming resources, you should examine all files in detail. The granularity of this review depends on RDC-specific regulations and data type (quantitative or qualitative). The content review of resources is of particular relevance and a prerequisite for reuse by other researchers. For example, the following criteria are checked:

  • Are all data protection requirements met?
  • Do the data need to be anonymized or pseudonymized?
  • Which data access methods are suitable for the resources? Is publication possible at all or only under certain security measures, such as remote access?
  • Do the data need to be cleaned? This includes checking whether variables and values are labeled, weights are applied correctly, or filtering is done correctly.
  • In case of qualitative data in the form of videos or audio recordings, it is necessary to check whether they are individual recording units or a complete data collection.

In case where the submission of resources is faulty or incomplete, you need to contact the data provider. It is important to clarify whether these are minor changes that may be possible for you as the data curator to make. In cases where major changes are needed, in order to avoid incorrect modifications on your part, it would make more sense if these changes are managed by the data providers themselves. In this case, the submitted resources should be permanently deleted. A reevaluation will then take place after new submission of research data.

The research data centre at the IQB has published sample checklists for technical1 and content2 entrance examinations.

1 Research Data Center at the Institute for Quality Development in Education (FDZ at IQB) (2021). Entrance Examination at FDZ at IQB / Procedure of ingest at the FDZ at the IQB. Berlin: IQB – Institute for Quality Development in Education. Available at:, available under CC 1.0.

2 Research Data Center at the Institute for Quality Development in Education (FDZ at IQB) (2021). Documentation of Entrance Control / Ingest Checklist. Berlin: IQB – Institute for Quality Development in Education. Available at:, available under CC 1.0.