What is research data

Defining ‘research data’ is challenging.

The challenge is:

  • There is not a consensus on the definition
  • It varies according to discipline
  • It varies according to the research funder 

"Research data, unlike other types of information, is collected, observed, or created, for purposes of analysis to produce original research results." University of Edinburgh

"Research data is defined as recorded factual material commonly retained by and accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings; although the majority of such data is created in digital format, all research data is included irrespective of the format in which it is created."
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Broad categories within the research data spectrum from physical sciences (astronomy) is provided by Dr Jonathan Tedds, University of Leicester:

  • Raw/initially processed data produced at a research facility such as an observatory
  • ‘Research ready’ processed data which has been fully calibrated, combined and cleaned/annotated
  • Published output dataset – following detailed analysis of research ready datasets
  • Published catalogue type representation of published output dataset 

A summary document pulling together a number of useful definitions and explanations.pdf