What is research data?

The german research foundation (DFG) defines the term research data as follows:

“Research data might include measurement data, laboratory values, audiovisual information, texts, survey data, objects from collections, or samples that were created, developed or evaluated during scientific work. Methodical forms of testing such as questionnaires, software and simulations may also produce important results for scientific research and should therefore also be categorised as research data.”

DFG (2015): DFG Guidelines on the Handling of Research Data, p. 1.

At the beginning of any research project, the question must be asked whether new data should be generated or collected, or whether existing data can be utilized. Data generated specifically for the conducted research project is referred to as primary data, while data that has already been collected is called secondary data.

The decision about which type of empirical data should be the basis for further research has far-reaching consequences in regards of the considered research data management aspects. In case of generating primary data, for example, the acquisition and processing, as well as the related research ethics and data protection requirements should be examined. In case of secondary data use, the question of data access is the primary concern.

The following Video by Elsevier explains what research data is and which aspects are relevant.