Good research data management from the very beginning will help your project run as efficiently as possible.

cropped RDM before your project page laptop and pen

There are a number of factors you may want to take into account when planning how you (and your colleagues) will manage your data. The RDM Service can help you with one-to-one clinics or group workshops.

Data Management Plans

Many funders require a data management plan (DMP) as part of the grant application process. A good DMP demonstrates how you will create and share FAIR data and how your project will comply with your funder’s data policy.

Funder-specific templates for writing your DMP, along with guidance on how to complete the template, are available on DMPOnline. There is guidance available on how to use DMPOnline on their website, but if you get into any difficulty contact the RDM Service and we will be happy to help you. Alternatively, you can use the Data Curation Centre’s Checklist for a Data Management Plan to help you to write a DMP.

If you anticipate you’d need bioinformatics support, statistical input or specialist research systems for your project it is best to identify these at the start so that we can cost them into the grant. Refer to our During your project page for more information.

If you will be developing any Intellectual Property (IP) as part of your project, particularly any potentially commercialisable outputs, contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the Joint Research and Enterprise Services for relevant guidance. IP will affect whether or not you are able to share your data, which is an important component of data management plans.

It is recommended that you share a draft of your DMP with the SGUL Research Data Support Manager for review. Send your draft to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Ethics and governance

Project teams are responsible for ensuring that they have the required ethical and governance approvals to proceed with their research. Research ethics and governance queries can be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Does your study need NHS Ethics Review?

The following two links will take you to guidance provided by the Medical Research Council, the Health Research Authority (HRA) and the National Research Ethics Service (NRES) on whether your study requires ethical review by NRES or not.

Do I need NHS REC approval?

Is my study research?

Although your study may not require ethical review from NRES, it may still require approval from other bodies.

Does your study need internal SGUL ethics review?

The St George’s Research Ethics Committee (SGREC) reviews research being undertaken by SGUL staff or students, and research that is taking place on SGUL property. Visit the SGREC pages on the portal for more information.


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Will you be handling personal or sensitive data?

Any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject', which can be used to directly or indirectly identify that person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or an IP address.

Special Category (sensitive data) personal data

Personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation.

The data subject must give explicit consent to the processing of those personal data for one or more specified purpose.

Examples of Special Category data:

  • race
  • ethnic origin
  • politics
  • religion
  • trade union membership
  • genetics
  • biometrics (where used for ID purposes)
  • health
  • sex life or
  • sexual orientation

What should a researcher do if they wish to use personal data for research?

The regulation requires that personal data are processed fairly and lawfully. To use personal data for research, researchers have two options:

1. Comply with the regulation by gaining 'explicit' or 'unambiguous' consent or must have other legal basis for processing. Or

2. Use unidentifiable data so that processing no longer needs to comply with the regulation.

Data is only completely anonymised if it is impossible to identify the individuals from the information therefore researchers should always use the term pseudonymised if they are not sure. A set of data is not anonymised if codes were given to individual items and then a separate list is held which links these codes to individuals.

What is the difference between ‘explicit' and 'unambiguous' data subject consent?

The request for consent must be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent (this should be in the participant information sheet) - meaning it must be unambiguous using clear and plain language. This can rely on implied consent (i.e. a data subject inserting their email address to be contacted for future research). This is still an affirmative action that indicates acceptance of the processing, but they have not given their “explicit consent”.

Explicit consent is required only for processing Special Category (sensitive) personal data - in this context, an affirmative action is required where data subject should explicitly indicate that they agree to the processing (e.g. ticking a box that says “I consent to...”).

If you have questions about handling personal or sensitive personal data in research contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the Joint Research and Enterprise Services


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Relevant policies

There are a number of policies that will impact data management on your project.

Most external funding bodies expect research data and/or metadata to be made openly available at the end of the projects with as few restrictions as possible. Many also expect research data to be appropriately preserved for the long term. The University of Cambridge maintains a list of major UK funders’ data management and sharing policies for reference.

SGUL researchers are also obliged to follow the SGUL Research Data Management Policy.

SGUL’s information governance policies are held on the Information Governance (IG) pages on the portal.


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Finding existing data

Research and public sector data are increasingly becoming easier to find, access, use and cite. If you are just starting a project and would like help to find existing data in your research area the RDM Service may be able to help. Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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RDM training and resources

Contact the RDM Service at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a slot for bespoke RDM Clinics for you and your research team.

There are also a number of online training resources available to help you to build your competence with RDM in our increasingly data-intensive and open research environment. Foster Open Science provides researchers with training in Open Science, including a number of specific modules in health, medicine, biosciences and bioinformatics. The Managing and Sharing Research Data module provides a good starting point for research data management.

The Jisc RDM Toolkit also curates a range of RDM resources available on the web to help researchers find the most relevant resources in their field.


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Last Updated: Friday, 24 May 2019 15:39

For all enquiries about research data management, email: