Research Data Management Survey

Research Data Management Survey

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Report released 23 November 2020

Executive Summary

The Research Data Management (RDM) Survey at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville (UAF) was distributed as a link to a Qualtrics survey embedded in an email invitation sent on 22 September 2020 to 181 principal investigators (PIs) who received federal research awards between 1 January 2016 and 1 August 2020. Fifty-two (52) respondents completed the survey before it closed at 11:59 PM on 13 October 2020; that’s a response rate of approximately 29% . Respondents represented five (5) colleges and the University Libraries. A substantial percentage of respondents (35% ) named the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the agency that provided their most recent federal research award. The next two most frequently named agencies were the Department of Education (ED) (10% of the responses) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (10% of the responses). Throughout the survey, respondents were asked to answer with this most recent award in mind.

This report summarizes the most prominent findings from the survey and offers recommendations for the university administration’s consideration. To download a full copy of this report please click here



Desire for Training – Respondents expressed interest in training on the following topics for themselves and for graduate students

  • Data management plan
  • Day-to-day research data management
  • Preparation of data and creation of associated meta data to be published, shared, or otherwise disseminated

Responsibility for Training – Respondents repeatedly named the following organizations and campus units as those which should take responsibility for providing training

  • Office of Research and Innovation
  • Federal Agencies
  • University Libraries
  • University IT
  • Colleges

Awareness of Resources – respondents reported being unaware of resources for managing, sharing, and preserving research data

Nature of the Research Data

Class of Data – 26 respondents stated that they used or produced restricted data (e.g., sensitive, proprietary, personal/confidential) 28 respondents stated that they used or produced “data without restrictions on dissemination”

Data Format – 32 respondents stated that they stored data in digital formats (e.g., binary, as)ii) ; 24 stated that they store data in text (e.g., Word, Excel) formats; respondents also listed images, audio, video, DNA sequence, and a few other formats

Data Storage

Amount of Storage Required – 15 respondents reported the need for <50 GB of storage for research data; 12 reported the need for >1 TB; between these two extremes, 13 reported the need for 50 GB to 1 TB

Storage Constraints – 28 respondents reported that they experienced no storage constraints; 7 reported experiencing constraints; 7 said they were “not sure” if they experienced constraints. This question might have been worded more clearly.

Storage Location, Active Data – Respondents reported storing the primary copy of active data in the following locations: office computer (25 responses), lab computer (24 responses), cloud-based data storage service (23 responses); other storage locations include: external hard drive, home computer, USB flash drive, university server, AHPCC, and CVEG server

Storage Location, Backup Copy – Respondents reported storing the backup copy in the following locations: cloud-based data storage service (26 responses), external hard drive (21 responses); other backup storage locations include: office computer, lab computer, USB flash drive, home computer, university server, and CVEG server

UA Computing Network or UA Sponsored Cloud-Based Service – 18 respondents reported using both the local network and a cloud-based service; 12 reported using only the local network; 6 reported using only a cloud-based service

Perceptions of UA Network and UA Sponsored Cloud-Based Service – both respondents who use these facilities and those who do not perceived them as reliable and secure with good user-support.

Public Access for Research Data

Federal Public Access Mandate Awareness –14 respondents reported that the federal agency which provided their most recent award has a public access mandate for data; 10 respondents reported that the federal agency which provided their most recent award does not have such a mandate; 5 respondents reported that the public access mandate does not apply because their projects involve restricted data; 11 respondents reported that they were “not sure if the federal public access mandate applies” to their current project.

Disseminating Research Data – 17 respondents selected the answer “I have not yet released my research data but I’m open to doing so,” while 2 respondents selected “I have not released my data and I do not intend to do so.” Other respondents reported sharing data through various venues, including the following:

  • Federally designated/sponsored data repository
  • By request
  • Disciplinary data repository
  • Personal website
  • Repository indicated by the journal where an article was published
  • Data journal


Research is a do-it-yourself project for the respondents who reported that PIs and Co-Is take responsibility for the following tasks. Graduate students also play a role.

  • Preparing a data management plan
  • Day-to-day research data management
  • Creation of meta data for data to be published, shared, or otherwise disseminated
  • Preparation of data to be published, shared, or otherwise disseminated

Complete Survey

The complete responses are included in the downloadable pdf.


  1. The individual colleges, in collaboration with the University Libraries and the Office of Research and Innovation, will develop a short curriculum and associated tools for research data management (RDM) to provide training for faculty, staff, postdocs, and students. This curriculum will cover topics including – but not limited to – the following:
    • data management plans
    • sensitive and proprietary data
    • metadata creation
    • publishing data
    • sharing and archiving data
    • showcasing and publicizing research

    The Task Force notes that the University Libraries, particularly the Data Services Librarian, offers instruction and assistance with many aspects of RDM.
  2. The Task Force, with input from the Data Services Librarian, will create a set of data management plan (DMP) templates reflecting the facilities and support available at the U of A; these templates will be available on the Office of Research and Innovation website.
  3. The Office of Research and Innovation communication specialists will collaborate with the colleges, the University Libraries, AHPCC, and ITS to inform the entire campus about available facilities, services, and training for RDM.
  4. The Office of Research Compliance and ITS will continue to work with principal investigators to ensure the security of research data as well as compliance with federal regulations and data use agreements.
  5. The Task Force will work with the incoming Director of Sponsored Programs to develop an efficient process for ensuring compliance with federal public access mandates for both publications and data.
  6. This Task Force, in consultation with the research deans, the Research Council, research center leaders, and experienced principal investigators, will develop a long-term strategy for the governance, management, and sharing of research data.

NOTE: In implementing the above suggestions, it is important to keep in mind one respondent’s comment that “one size does not fit all.”

Timothy Eichler and Melody Herr authored this summary report.

Task Force Members

  • Chair: Melody Herr, Head, Office of Scholarly Communications
  • Bob Beitle, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation
  • David J. Chaffin, Director, High Performance Computing Center
  • Donald DuRosseau, Director of Research Computing, University Information Technology Services
  • Timothy Eichler, Assistant Professor, Education
  • Dinesh R. Hegde, Associate CIO, University Information Technology Services
  • Steve Krogull, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Information Technology Services Jason Ramage, Director, Office of Research Compliance
  • Kathy Scheibel, Assistant Director, Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Wes Stites, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation