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Making research data reusable

At the beginning of their careers, researchers are often faced with the question of correct research data management (RDM). Especially in small research projects, it is unclear to many, how the data can be made usable in the long term. With a new handout and a set of slides, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) provides recommendations for RDM in small research projects.

Research data can vary greatly depending on the discipline and collection method. In the social and economic sciences, for example, this includes measurement data, texts, survey data, observation data, or questionnaires. Smaller research projects can also make their data reusable through traceable RDM. A working group of the German Data Forum has developed a handout and a set of slides to provide practical assistance.

The handout is based on the five phases of the research data life cycle. For each phase, there are useful links, tools, and practical tips. A glossary with explanations of terms also facilitates the introduction to the topic. The target groups are in particular doctoral students, but also other students and researchers in small projects in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences.

“Researchers who are not involved in large-scale studies have so far had little systematic support on how to manage their research data and make it reusable. The handout remedies this,” says Prof. Dr. Jörg Strübing, co-chair of the working group on research data management in small projects of the German Data Forum.

Additional set of slides for teachers

Together with the handout, the German Data Forum has published a set of slides. The approximately 60 slides correspond to a teaching unit (approx. 90 minutes) and can be used for introductory courses in methodology. The slide set is suitable for both Bachelor’s and Master’s level courses. The content of the slide set is based on the handout and integrates many links and tools as well as additional examples.

“Teachers can adapt the slides as they wish, so it is suitable for many different teaching formats and can provide an excellent introduction to the topic,” says Prof. Dr. Christiane Gross, who is also co-chair of the working group.

The two publications are available for free download on the German Data Forum website:


The German Data Forum (RatSWD) advises the federal government and the governments in the federal states on expanding and improving the research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural and economic sciences since 2004. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is made up of ten elected representatives from the social, behavioural, and economic disciplines who work together with ten representatives from key data producers.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is part of the Consortium for Social, Behavioural, Educational, and Economic sciences (KonsortSWD) in the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). It acts as an institutionalised forum for dialogue between science and data producers, as well as developing recommendations and opinions. It is committed to supporting an infrastructure that enables sciences to have broad, flexible, and secure data access. These data are provided by state, science-based, and private-sector actors. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has currently accredited 42 research data centres and encourages their cooperation.