Data Types

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Types of Data

Research Data Defined

One definition of research data is: "the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings." (OMB Circular 110). Across all agencies including the NSF the definition of research data does not mean summary statistics or tables; rather, it means the data on which summary statistics and tables are based.

Research Data Examples

  • Documents (text, Word), spreadsheets, print outs
  • Laboratory notebooks, field notebooks, diaries
  • Questionnaires, transcripts, codebooks
  • Audio, video
  • Photographs, films, x-rays, negatives, 
  • Protein or genetic sequences
  • Spectra, spectroscope data
  • Test responses
  • Slides, artifacts, specimens, samples
  • Collection of digital objects acquired and generated during the process of research
  • Database contents (video, audio, text, images)
  • Models, algorithms, scripts, code, software
  • Contents of an application (input, output, logfiles for analysis software, simulation software, schemas)
  • Methodologies and workflows
  • Standard operating procedures and protocols
  • Computers and computer data storage devices
  • Synthetic compounds
  • Organisms, cell lines, viruses, cell products
  • Cloned coordinates, plants animals



Some kinds of data might not be sharable due to the nature of the items themselves, or to ethical and privacy concerns. As defined by the OMB, this refers to:

  • Preliminary analyses
  • Drafts of scientific papers
  • Plans for future research
  • Peer reviews
  • Communications with colleagues
  • Trade secrets, commercial information, materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published or similar information which is protected under law
  • Personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular person in a research study

Additionally, research data managment is not records managmeent for projects or university business data. And therefore does not manage such items as:

  • Correspondence (electronic mail and paper-based correspondence)
  • Project files
  • Grant applications
  • Ethics applications
  • Technical reports
  • Research reports
  • Signed consent forms
  • Results of compliance reviews: (export Controls and human subjects)
  • Software to read proprietary vendor data formats


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