Good documentation and organisation strategies will make your processes more efficient and will help your data to be more accessible, interoperable and reusable in the long term (FAIR).

cropped RDM during your project test tubes


Research systems and software

The university maintains a number of systems and software to support researchers with collecting, managing and enabling safe access to data.

Survey tools

If you will be collecting personal data or sensitive information in your survey, then you should use LimeSurvey. LimeSurvey allows you to develop, publish and collect responses to surveys. LimeSurvey includes a wide range of built-in question types and a wide range of flexible options. Your surveys can include branching, your own preferred layout and design (using a templating system), and can provide basic statistical analysis of survey results. Surveys can be public, or can be strictly controlled through the use of "once-only" tokens for each survey participant. Results can be exported in many common formats; Excel, CSV, SPSS, PASW, PDF and Word. For more information about using Limesurvey please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If your survey is considered very low risk and you will not be collecting any personal data or sensitive information then you can use Microsoft Forms on SGUL’s Office 365 to collect data for your study. Training on Microsoft Forms is available from our IT Training Manager, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Data Safe Haven (DaSH)

DaSH facilitates safe access to population health data for research while ensuring adherence to the highest standards of security. The Data Safe Haven has been certified to the ISO27001 information security standard and conforms to NHS Digital's Information Governance Toolkit. Built using a walled garden approach, where the data is stored, processed and managed within the security of the system, avoiding the complexity of assured end point encryption. A file transfer mechanism enables information to be transferred into the walled garden simply and securely. For more information, access and training please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Research Data Collection Service (REDCap)

REDCap is a mature, secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases. While REDCap can be used to collect virtually any type of data, it is specifically geared to support data capture for research studies, particularly clinical trials. The REDCap service is run by Computing Services. It provides a simple web based tool for creating online surveys, electronic case report forms (eCRFs) and other data collection instruments. Its interface makes it straightforward for anybody to create and manage data collection, whilst also supporting more complex data management activities (validation, double entry, randomisation, data cleansing, anonymisation, etc.). For more information about using REDCap in your research project please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

High Performance Computing (HPC)

SGUL offers an on-site High Performance Computing (HPC) service that can be accessed by academic/research staff and research students. The service consists of a large High Performance Computing resource consisting of several clusters which are used for all forms of predictive modelling, data analysis and simulation which are too large, too complex or too time consuming to be performed on a Desktop PC. For more information about our HPC please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

ItemTracker

Itemtracker aids in the tracking and management of samples held at St George’s, University of London. All research groups using human samples which are stored under our HTA license must use ItemTracker – this includes samples stored in freezers, fridges, in liquid nitrogen or at ambient temperature. Studies using other kinds of laboratory samples or those where there is current ethics approval are also encouraged to use ItemTracker. There is an existing SOP for managing your samples using the system. For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Back to top


Storage

It is advisable to store your data on a SGUL network or shared drive, which you will be allocated by Computing Services. As your project develops, you might find you need more storage space. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss your needs for more active data storage.

Data storage for students
Students have access to two storage areas:

  • OneDrive for Business on SGUL's Office 365
  • Personal SGUL H: drive

Whilst students are working on or with their projects/data, they can use these two areas to save work – this should give them the freedom to work on their data on personal laptops. The H: drive is accessible remotely via VPN, and ensures data is secure both from a confidentiality and loss perspective. Students can access OneDrive directly from their student mailboxes by clicking ‘Office 365' on the top left of the screen. You have 1TB of cloud storage available on OneDrive.

Students need to ensure that their research data/files are saved on their H: drive or OneDrive for Business accounts and NOT on personal laptops, removable hard drives or other portable media, or personal cloud-based services (e.g. smartphones back-up etc.). The SGUL H: drive that every SGUL student is given is backed up to a server every night so data is recoverable. Information on OneDrive/Office 365 is automatically saved and backed up.

The only people able to access files on OneDrive for Business are the owner of the account and anyone they choose to share files with. It is important that data is anonymised before it can be put on OneDrive. No sensitive personal data or patient information should be kept on the university's 365 cloud, including OneDrive for Business, at any time.

Removable media: these include audio recorders and USB devices. If you are collecting data in the field, you can store your data temporarily on removable storage as long as it is password protected. Data on audio recorders must be kept in a locked, safe place and should be password protected if your device has this feature. Data should be stored in the device’s physical memory and not on the cloud. Saving identifiable or sensitive research data on the cloud is not permitted under any circumstance. Note that your data is still vulnerable if the removable device is lost or stolen. Ensure that you upload the information to your H: Drive or, if anonymised, OneDrive as soon as possible and delete all information held on the removable drive.

Students sharing data between each other

  1. Students can email documents or spreadsheets to each other
  2. If the document/spreadsheet contains any personal data, the document will need to be password-protected and then sent, with the password for opening the file sent separately.
  3. If the document contains no personal/sensitive data you can share it directly on Office 365 using OneDrive's sharing and collaboration features.

Support/training with Office 365 is available from our IT Training Manager, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Back to top


Documenting data

Good documentation improves the quality, interoperability and re-usability of your data. It also makes your research processes more efficient, particularly over time.

Research can be documented with study-level documentation, data-level documentation and catalogue metadata. The UK Data Service provides a valuable summary of each of these levels of documentation with examples of the kinds of information you should include in your own documentation. If you’re writing source code as part of your research you should also document your code. The Software Sustainability Institute provides useful advice for making your source code readable.

You should use community-agreed documentation standards, controlled vocabularies, protocols, or good practice where these exist. Documentation standards for some common SGUL data types include:

  • CDISC which maintains a range of data standards for clinical research.
  • BIDS which is a standard to organise and describe neuroimaging and behavioural data.
  • The OME Model is a specification for storing (meta)data on biological imaging.
  • The UK Data Service metadata guidelines will help researchers in the social, behavioral, economic, and health sciences to document their data.

FAIRsharing.org maintains a searchable list of documentation standards for a range of SGUL data types, including high throughput ‘omics’ data (genomics, metagenomics, proteomics, etc.).

Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you need help locating standards that best suit your research areas.

 

Back to top


Data quality

SGUL researchers are responsible for managing their data according to community standards for quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC).

Generally, producing clear documentation and working to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and protocols will help you to create better quality data regardless of your field.

The UK Data Service provides good examples of QA/QC processes that could be applied to a range of data types.

The WHO’s Quality practices in basic biomedical research offers good guidance for addressing quality in non-regulated, basic biomedical research.

There are a number of quality systems in place for regulated research, including Good Laboratory Practice and Good Clinical Practice for pre-clinical and clinical studies respectively. Researchers conducting regulated research should be aware of their responsibilities regarding data quality and reliability.

Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the JRES for more information on data quality in regulated research.

 

Back to top


Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 August 2019 12:27

For all enquiries about research data management, email: researchdata@sgul.ac.uk