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How our researchers manage their data

What do researchers at TU Wien know about Research Data Management (RDM)? What works for them, what are their expectations and needs?

Research data cycle

To answer these questions, we interviewed 25 researchers from TU Wien and additionally evaluated an Austria-wide online survey from the year 2015 at TU Wien level. The results provide an insight into the current situation and help us at the Center for Research Data Management to develop tailor-made services.

Data types and their management

The data researchers deal with are just as broadly diversified as the research activities at the TU Wien are. This applies to both, the origin and the format of the data. The majority of the surveyed researchers generate digital content in the form of text documents (e.g. .doc), charts, images or spreadsheets. In addition, source code and structured text (e.g. .txt) are often the result of research processes, and software applications are mentioned by about one third of all respondents. About one fifth of those who participated in the survey generate databases or videos.

Most researchers show high awareness in terms of secure storage of research data and data exchange with others (e.g. via TUproCloud). On the other hand, there are deficits in those areas that have an effect beyond the actual project phase. In many cases, RDM is carried out in a disorderly manner, often lacking data documentation, clear responsibility statements, and concepts for structured data storage to allow long-term retrievability and reuse.

Data publication and reuse

More than half of the surveyed researchers allow third parties access to their data. The research data is mainly passed on within the TU Wien, but on request also to external colleagues. However, only a few of the respondents have experience in making research data available as additional information to a publication, in making it accessible to the public (open data) or in depositing it in a repository with restricted access. Accordingly, the relevant services and requirements (user licenses, FAIR principles, metadata schemes, persistent identifiers, etc.) are fairly unknown.

In addition to the ownership and the use of commercial software with specific data formats, sensitive data is a challenge with regard to the reuse of one's own data by third parties: After all, around half of the survey participants state that they often or sometimes generate sensitive or confidential data.

Most of the surveyed researchers also use external data for their own research activities. For more than half of the respondents, legal ambiguities are never or only rarely a problem. Others note that there are sometimes or even often uncertainties. About a quarter of respondents leave this question unanswered.

Expectations and needs

A cultural change in favour of reuse of data and software, also in the sense of open data, is expected by some discussion partners and many are aware that the topic of research data management will soon gain noticeably in importance, not least due to new requirements of funding bodies and publishers. In addition, it is assumed that interdisciplinarity in research as well as internal and external networking will continue increasing. New opportunities for contact and cooperation, increased visibility and reputation as well as greater transparency and improved reproducibility of research are mentioned as the most important incentives for sharing research data.

In the interviews, the opinion was expressed several times that comprehensive research data management is an additional effort that cannot be accomplished by the researchers alone. The survey participants primarily want technical infrastructure to support the handling of research data, but also specific support for data management and legal questions. Around a quarter of the respondents would like to have training courses and a helpdesk with first-level support.

The need for further training and advice expressed by the interviewees relates both to the basics of the RDM and to practical assistance in day-to-day research (e.g. in connection with data management plans, grant applications, publishing and quoting) and legal issues (intellectual property rights, licences, anonymization, etc.).

Technical expectations and wishes were also expressed in the interviews. Half of the interviewees, for example, spoke out in favour of setting up a TU-owned data repository for the secure and long-term storage of research data. In the online survey, too, most respondents indicated a central data archive of their own institution as the preferred type of archive, followed by international subject-specific data archives for sharing research data. In addition, repeated interest was expressed in an institutional code repository (e.g. GitLab) at the TU Wien. This need was recently confirmed by numerous entries in the Wish-Portal, opens an external URL in a new window.

Further reading:

Sánchez Solís, Barbara & Stork, Christiane. (2019). Forschungsdatenmanagement an der Technischen Universität Wien. Digitale Bibliothek der Universität Innsbruck., opens an external URL in a new window

Goraczek, Malgorzata Zofia, Sánchez Solís, Barbara, & Stork, Christiane. (2019). Forschende der TU Wien und ihre Daten. Darstellung der Ergebnisse der quantitativen Online-Befragung an der TU Wien (Version 1.0). Zenodo., opens an external URL in a new window

Bauer, B., Ferus, A., Gorraiz, J., Gründhammer, V., Gumpenberger, C., Maly, N., Steineder, C. (2015). Researchers and Their Data. Results of an Austrian Survey - Report 2015. Zenodo., opens an external URL in a new window


Technische Universität Wien
Center for Research Data Management
Resselgasse 4 (TU Wien Bibliothek), 1040 Vienna