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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 and information on these options is available at the VU intranet. 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 department representing your faculty.

Local Storage & Protection

The VU department IT for Research (ITvO) offers several services for both employees and students to store the data that is 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 your local IT manager 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 will be available soon. 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.


  • Surf Filesender: cloud service that allows you to send files of 500 GB 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.
  • 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. Research Drive will be available from August 2020

An overview of storage and file transfer options will be available soon.