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Research Data Management

When you are doing research, good data management practices and transparency are essential. This toolbox provides practical information and guidelines for both PhD students and researchers when working with research data.

Storage During Research

Many storage options exist that can be used for research data. Depending on the conditions and scope of the research the choices may be broader or narrower. The choices may depend on factors like:

  • Does a project involve multiple organisations or departments?
  • The sensitivity of the data: does it involve personal data or copyrighted / commercial data?
  • Are any commercial parties involved?
  • Does the research project involve multiple locations (multinational, even)?
  • Will there be (lab) devices producing data that need to be stored as well?
  • What will be the volume of the data?
  • Will there be lots of interactions with the data (using software/tools)?

Many solutions exist and may be used:

  • Local storage on computers/networks
  • Data storage by creating a shared database on a server
  • Specific locations where physical data samples are stored
  • A powerful (cloud-based) High Performance Computer

Researchers and PhD students have multiple options that can be used, some of which are listed below. More information about these storage options is also available on the VU IT Selfservice portal. It is also possible to ask the Research Data Services team for advice or, in case of complex projects, the relationship manager from the IT domain team for research.

Local Storage & Protection

VU IT and the department IT for Research (ITvO) offer several services for both employees and students to store the data that are being collected and used during research. Examples of local storage options are:

  • Group (network) drives. Most departments of faculties at the university will already have group drives or folders available to them. A research project may require strict limitations on who has access to specific folders or drives for sensitive data. Contact IT via the askIT-portal to discuss your requirements.
  • SciStor (short for ‘Storage for Scientists’): This option allows for inexpensive storage of large files. There are various levels of security possible and various ways to get access to the files. SciStor is only intended for ongoing research, not for archiving.

An overview of storage and file transfer options is available below. This overview will help you to choose the storage option most suitable to your research. In the left column, you will find criteria about the research and the data. The matrix shows you what storage options meet these criteria. You can then choose the appropriate storage option based on your needs. Please make use of the RDM Support Desk and/or your local data stewards to get help on which tool to pick, particularly when working with confidential, sensitive and/or personal data

Protected Cloud Storage & File sharing

A number of research projects will involve researchers from multiple organisations. It may also involve researchers from multiple countries. Developments in cloud-based solutions go fast and many options are available these days. When selecting a cloud-based service it is important to remember to check where the data will be hosted. If the research project involves sensitive data it may be necessary to choose cloud-based options that guarantee that the data will stay in Europe or on European-based servers.


  • Edugroepen: using the Sharepoint technology it is possible to create up to 20 teamsites of 250 MB each (in total 5 GB) by each registered user. EDUgroepen is a customizable digital environment in which partners can collaborate on a research project. An unlimited number of team members may be invited, including people at organizations not affiliated with education or research. Multiple authorization levels are possible, inlcusing guest users with limited rights. A short practical (English) manual on how Edugroepen works and can be set up is available online (see below) . Edugroepen also provides a more extensive (Dutch) manual on all the features and options.
  • Research Drive is a cloud storage at Surf for research projects and is suitable for collaboration in and outside of the VU, for storing sensitive data and large-scale research projects. Right now, it is the best solution the VU offers to be GDPR/AVG compliant. You are able to request storage space in Research Drive via a web form in the askIT portal (VU employees only). More general information about Research Drive can be found here, and its wiki pages, including tutorials, are here.
  • Surf Filesender: cloud service that allows you to send files of 1 Terabyte to other researchers and encrypted files of up to 250 GB.
  • Surfdrive: is a personal cloud storage service for the Dutch education and research community, offering staff, researchers and students an easy way to store, synchronise and share files in the secure and reliable SURF community cloud. All users receive storage space of up to 500 GB.
  • Zivver: All employees of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can use Zivver, the encryption program that allows you to send email or data (sensitive or otherwise) securely by email. Attachments will also be encrypted and can be several Terabyte in size (max = 5 TB). Specific information on how to get and use Zivver are available at General explanations on how to use it are available at the Zivver website.