FAQs

Confidential data

What is personal research data?

Personal data are described as all information about an identified or identifiable natural person (the data subject). TU Delft privacy website provides a comprehensive definition and examples of personal research data.

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How to store personal research data?

It is recommended that all personal research data are stored on a dedicated Project Storage drive, which can be requested from the ICT department (request via TopDesk).

Data stored on Project Storage is only accessible by authorized individuals (ICT provides access control). In addition, personal data should be encrypted.

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How long should I store consent forms for?

First, consent forms are not “research data” - they are more akin to a contract established between a researcher and participants. Therefore the 10 year retention period does not apply to consent forms.

However, preservation of consent forms is mandatory as long as personal data is retained. Should personal data be archived, then the consent forms should be archived together with data.

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Can I share personal research data?

Datasets which can be anonymised are suitable for public sharing. Consent forms should ask participants for public sharing of anonymised research data, without specifying the purpose (this is sometimes referred to as an ‘open consent’). TU Delft researchers can archive their anonymised research data (up to 1TB per year) free of charge at 4TU.Centre for Research Data. 4TU.Centre for Research Data will take care of data archiving and preservation for at least 15 years.

Alternatively, if datasets cannot be anonymised, and it is necessary to restrict the access to research outputs, the informed consent form needs to clearly define how and for what purpose datasets can be accessed or re-used. The informed consent form can ask for specific permissions, for example, limiting the groups of people who would be able to reuse the data, or limiting the purpose for which data can be used. It is also possible that some parts of the data will be suitable for public sharing, whereas others will require restricted access conditions. If data are not suitable for public sharing, please contact researchdata@4tu.nl for advice.

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Data storage and security

Where can I store my data?

Information about available storage solutions provided by the ICT department can be found here:

Alternatively, ask your Data Steward for assistance.

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How to encrypt my data?

Encryption can be requested from the ICT department. More information about how to encrypt your hard drive can be found here.

Alternatively, you can request support from ICT for customised solutions (privacy-tud@tudelft.nl).

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Where can I find manuals about ICT services?

Most ICT manuals are available here: https://www.tudelft.nl/en/it-manuals/

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Policies

Does TU Delft have a policy for data management?

Yes, TU Delft has the Research Framework Policy which stipulates key obligations for various stakeholders across the University, including all staff involved in research. In addition, some faculties have dedicated faculty data management policies and your faculty Data Steward can advise you on these.

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How long should I store my research data for?

TU Delft Research Data Framework policy stipulates that research data should be retained for at least 10 years from the end of the research project, unless there are valid reasons not to do so.

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What if I can’t publish my data?

In accordance with TU Delft Research Data Framework policy, all individuals involved in research, including doctoral candidates, are required to publish research data, which is necessary to validate research findings. Most of the time, results of research done at TU Delft is suitable for public sharing. However, there might be some exceptions.

The following types of research data might be unsuitable for publishing:

  • Confidential data, for example:

    • Personal data - data related to a living person that makes it possible to identify this person or to distinguish him or her uniquely from other persons (for example, name and surname, email address, location data, bank details);

    • Commercially confidential data - data which will be subject to commercialisation, for example, patenting, or other forms of intellectual property protection;

    • Other types of confidential data, for example, data related to national security, export control regulations, or certain data related to animal research;

  • Data (or code) belonging to third parties or external collaborators - for example, data which you have received from external companies, or project partners;
  • Data that is too large to be published online by repositories such as 4TU.ResearchData or Surf Data Archive;
  • Data which is deemed unsuitable for publishing for reasons other than listed above - please consult with your faculty data steward to discuss these reasons.

If you think your data falls under one (or more) of the categories listed above, and the next steps have not yet been discussed and agreed during the preparation of your data management plan, the faculty data steward can be contacted for advice and to discuss alternative arrangements. PhD candidates are advised to discuss this with their supervisor as soon as possible.

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What to do if my data is unsuitable for publishing?

These will vary on the type of data (or code) you have and also on your specific situation and will have to be decided jointly with your supervisor. In most cases you will be able to make metadata about your data public in 4TU.Centre for Research Data. This will help the discoverability of your data. Even if your data can’t be made publicly available, others will know that it exists and what to do to request access to your data. With regards to the actual data and code, the following alternative arrangements can be considered in general:

  • Confidential data:

    • Personal data:

      • Data anonymisation or sharing of aggregated data
      • Depositing data in data archives which offer the possibility of access restriction (e.g. DANS Easy)
      • In all cases, participants have to consent to data sharing

    • Commercially-confidential data:

      • Sharing of aggregated data or data which does not have the confidential component
      • Temporarily embargoing the data (until the IP is protected)
      • Note that in some cases mere publishing of metadata about commercial data might impede future IP protection, so make sure this is carefully discussed with your supervisor

    • Third party data:

      • Indicate clearly the nature of your data (ideally, allowing its unambiguous identification) and also the third party which the data belongs to, so that potential access requests can be directed to that third party

    • Other types of confidential data:

      • Seek the advice of your superior in the first instance

  • Large data:

    • 4TU.Centre for Research Data offers each TU Delft researcher the possibility to publish up to 1TB of data free of charge (1TB/per researcher/per year). If your data is larger than this, contact researchdata@4tu.nl to discuss alternative arrangements, for example, making a selection of the data available and indicating clearly in the metadata what other data is available upon request.

The possible options above should not be treated as an exhaustive list and solutions will differ depending on individual circumstances. In all cases your supervisor should be the first contact point to discuss any exceptions, and you might want to seek further advice from your faculty Data Steward.

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Are there any requirements with regards to data management for doctoral candidates at TU Delft?

Yes, there are two requirements for doctoral candidates at TU Delft:

  1. Data publication requirement – for all doctoral candidates who started on/after 1 January 2019
  2. Data management plan requirement – for all doctoral candidates who started on/after 1 January 2020

The Library has dedicated resources with information about data publication and about data management plan preparation. For any additional questions, contact your Faculty Data Steward.

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What are funders requirements for data sharing?

An increasing number of research funders require researchers to comply with their requirements for formal management and sharing of research data. More details and examples of these requirements are provided on the research data management website.

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What are the FAIR principles?

This information has been originally published at the VU Library website and is re-used here with permission.

The FAIR principles were formulated in 2014 to guide data producers and publishers on how to increase the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of their data. The goal is to ensure that scholarly data can be used as widely as possible – accelerating scientific discoveries and benefiting society in the process.

The FAIR principles were rapidly adopted by Dutch and European funding agencies. If you receive a research grant from NWO, ZonMw, or the European Commission, you will be asked to make your data FAIR.

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How can I benefit from the FAIR principles?

This information has been originally published at the VU Library website and is re-used here with permission.

You do not need to adhere to the FAIR principles in their entirety to start benefiting from making your data FAIR. Applying even just some of the principles, will increase the visibility and impact of your data, leading to:

  • Increased citations of the datasets themselves and your research.
  • Improved reproducibility of your research.
  • Compliance with funder and publisher requirements.

Making your data FAIR will also make it possible for you to easily find, access and reuse your own data in the future. You may be the first and most important beneficiary of making your own data FAIR. As said elsewhere: “As a scientist, you should treat your data like a love letter to your future self.”

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How do I make my data FAIR?

This information has been originally published at the VU Library website and is re-used here with permission.

Making data FAIR – how to get started in three easy steps?

  1. Start with a data management plan (DMP)
    A DMP is a living document in which you specify what kinds of data you will use in your project, and how you will process, store and archive them. Preparing a data management plan should be your first step in the process to make data FAIR. It is also a requirement from funding agencies and each faculty at TU Delft. To help you with this, DMPonline is available to help you create and share a DMP.
  2. Describe and document your data
    To be findable, data need to be described with appropriate metadata. Metadata can include keywords, references to related papers, the researchers’ ORCID identifiers, and the codes for the grants that supported the research.
    To be reusable, data need to be accompanied by documentation describing how the data was created, structured, processed, etc.
    If you have questions about metadata and documentation, contact your Faculty Data Steward and we will be happy to help you and to provide advice.
  3. Make your data available through a trustworthy repository
    If you choose a repository that: assigns a persistent identifier to both the data and the metadata; attaches metadata to the data according to standard metadata schemas; releases data with a license; and provides access to the data and metadata via an open and standard communication protocol (such as http) – then your data will meet many, if not most, of the FAIR principles. TU Delft has a dedicated data archive: 4TU.Centre for Research Data where you can make your data FAIR. TU Delft researchers can upload up to 1TB of data per researcher per year free of charge.

What if I cannot share my data?
Data do not need to be open to be FAIR. The FAIR principles allow for controlled access, which can be important for certain types of data, such as medical data. The guiding principle is always that data should be as “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”. If data cannot be openly shared, because they are too sensitive, then “the FAIR approach would be to make the metadata publicly available and provide information about the conditions for accessing the data itself.”

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Data management plans

Can someone support me with preparing a data management plan?

Every faculty has a dedicated Data Steward who can advise you on the preparation of a data management plan.

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What is a data management plan?

A data management plan (DMP) is a formal document that outlines how data are to be organised during, and after, a research project. It is often required as part of project funding. TU Delft also requires a formal data management plan for all projects working with personal research data.

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How to create a data management plan?

TU Delft staff can use DMPOnline, which is a dedicated tool to facilitate creation of data management plans. Data Stewards can provide feedback and advice on data management plans.

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What is a data management paragraph?

Data paragraphs are short sections on data management which are often required by funding bodies as part of grant applications. You can find more information about them on the Research Data Management website, or ask your faculty Data Steward for advice.

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Where can I find example data management plans?

Example data management plans can be found directly in DMPonline.

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Where can I find templates for data management plans?

Templates for data management are available directly in DMPonline (you will see them when creating a new data management plan).

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How to use DMPonline tool?

Information on how to use DMPonline tool, together with a user guide can be found on the Research Data Management website.

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Data sharing

I am about to publish a paper and the journal requires me to publish my data as well. What data do I need to publish?

As a minimum, publish all research data (including protocols, methods and code) which are necessary to reproduce your experiments.

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I want to publish data but have more than 1TB. What can I do?

TU Delft researchers can upload up to 1TB of data free of charge (per researcher, per year). If your data exceeds 1TB, please contact researchdata@4tu.nl.

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Where can I publish my data?

All TU Delft researchers can publish up to 1TB of data (per researcher, per year) via 4TU.ResearchData. Other general and subject specific repositories can be found via re3data.org or your can ask your faculty Data Steward for advice.

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How do I upload data to 4TU.Centre for Research Data?

You can do this online by filling in the data upload form. There is also a step-by-step manual explaining the upload process. If you have any questions contact researchdata@4tu.nl.

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What will happen with the data I uploaded to 4TU.Centre for Research Data?

Once you have uploaded your data, the 4TU.Centre for Research Data team will review your dataset and perform a metadata quality check to increase the discoverability of your data. 4TU.Centre for Research Data will take care of data archiving and preservation for at least 15 years.

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What if I need an embargo on my data?

If you need a temporary embargo on your data before it is publicly available (for example, if this is a requirement of the journal in which you wish to publish some of your results), you can request this during the data upload stage. In the “Remarks” field at the end of the data upload form, simply write “EMBARGO” with a date when the embargo should be lifted (before describing the dataset). Note than the embargo period can be no longer than two years.

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Where do I look for help with data sharing?

If you need help deciding which data to upload into the repository, contact your dedicated Data Steward.

If you need help with uploading your data into the 4TU.Centre for Research Data or if you have questions about the services provided by the 4TU.Centre for Research Data, e-mail researchdata@4tu.nl.

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