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Data and Statistics

This guide brings together resource lists of secondary data sources, support material and further guidance.

Managing data

Research Data Management (RDM) covers all of the decisions made during the research lifecycle to handle research data, from the planning stage of your project up to the long-term preservation of your data. Good data management practices are essential to meet UCL standards of research integrity. Planning ahead for Research Data Management helps you to ensure data quality, minimise risks, save time and comply with legal, ethical, institutional and funders' requirements. 

More information can be found in the Library Data Management guide.

Detailed support for those working with funding agencies or data considered sensitive under the Data Protection Act 2018 can be found in our dedicated RDM support pages.

Image from JISC outlining stages of the data lifecycle.

Diagram by Caroline Ingram at

Data storage

Your data is precious. When time and effort has been spent to gather data, apply quality control, produce scripts and run analyses, it is important to guard against data loss. This can be caused by an IT failure, deleting files you realise later are important or overwriting a particular file when saving. There are a few things you can do to help protect your data:

  • Adopt a helpful and consistent policy for naming files and organising folders.
  • Save copies of the initial raw data at the beginning of any analysis work and keep them stored separately from your main working folder.
  • Use versioning to keep track of data and scripts. If an error is made, going back to a previous version known to be reliable, rather than starting from scratch, saves a lot of time.
  • Ideally, store all work in a location with automatic backup enabled. Students and staff at UCL have access to several file storage options which can be mounted as a drive on your personal device. This keeps data conveniently accessible while ensuring they're automatically backed up, and UCL ISD can provide support such as assisting with retrieving accidently deleted files.

Further guidance on the N drive and other file storage at UCL available from ISD.

Legal and ethical responsibilities

Data can sometimes come with legal or ethical responsibilities. Always keep in mind any limitations that might be placed on the data you are working with as even when accessing material held in a database or archive there might still be licensing in place which restricts how that data are used.

  • If data are made available with a licence, read it, and make sure you fully comprehend the conditions under which you may use the data. For the purposes of studying and research at UCL, restrictions on commercial re-use for example are unlikely to be an issue, but there can be a variety of licence terms to be aware of.
  • Remember: always cite any data you have re-used in your work, to provide appropriate credit to the original creator and acknowledge their work. 
  • Be extra careful with any data that may contain the personal information of living people. This may require specific arrangements for secure data storage.

If you are not sure, expert advice can be found at UCL on copyright and data protection. ·