Getting from knowing to doing: The importance of data storage and preservation practices in research translation

Dr Michelle Krahe1, Malcolm Wolski2, Julie Toohey3, Professor Paul Scuffham4,5, Professor Sheena Reilly1,5

1Health Group, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia
2eResearch Services, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia
3Library and Learning Services, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia
4Centre for Applied Health Economics, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia
5Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia

Introduction

Research is driven by and a generator of large and diverse amounts of data. Despite this, a substantial gap between the evidence generated and that which is translated into practice or policy still exists. We propose that since the ability to translate knowledge is dependent upon access to and integrity of quality data and information, the importance where data is recorded (stored) and how it is secured and preserved during the research process is important.

Methods

As part of a larger evaluation of the research data management (RDM) practices of health and biomedical researchers, here we explore data storage and preservation practices from one Australian academic institution. Participants were researchers actively involved in the production of digital data and were invited to complete an online survey about RDM.

Results

The results indicate that practices are variable and not harmonious with best-practice. The majority of research data is stored on personal devices during data creation (49%), analysis (55%) and preservation (50%) and predominantly on personal computers (73%, 69% and 43%), a USB stick (36%, 36% and 21%), or external hard drive (33%, 31% and 38%). This trend was similar for both identifiable and non-identifiable data.

Conclusion

The findings highlight that researchers are primarily using storage devices and employing preservation techniques that are limiting the ability to translate knowledge into action. If data cannot be meaningfully and contextually interpreted, then its potential may not be realised and opportunities for the translation of knowledge and open science will be lost.


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