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Research Data Management @ Pitt

This guide will assist researchers in planning for the various stages of managing their research data and in preparing data management plans required with funding proposals.

Learning about storage options

A key aspect of a data management plan is a storage strategy for active data and archival data. Data is easily lost, digital files are fragile, and formats and storage media become obsolete. 

"Active" or "working" data refers to your data as you collect and access it during the course of a project. Your datasets may be expanding as you collect new data, and you may need to access data regularly for processing and analysis. An important component of data management planning is deciding where and how you will store your active data so that it is readily accessible to you but also secure. When making this decision, consider these issues:

  • Anticipated size of dataset
  • Computational requirements: Large-scale analyses may require high-speed processors and a substantial amount of disk space.
  • Backup: It is essential that you regularly make one or more backup copies of your data and store backups in geographically separate locations from the master dataset. CSSD (Computing Services and Systems Development) at Pitt provides guidance on backing up data. Keep in mind the Backup Rule of Three: keep an original copy, a second local copy, and a remote copy to mitigate the risk of data loss.
  • Security: If you are working with sensitive data such as medical data or other human subject data, ensure that the storage system you use meets security standards. General guidance and resources for securing your data are available through CSSD (Computing Services and Systems Development) at Pitt. Data security requirements for studies involving human subjects are available through Pitt's Institutional Review Board (IRB).

A good first step for investigating storage options for digital data is to contact the CSSD Help Desk (Computer Services and Systems Development) at 412-624-HELP [4357] or helpdesk@pitt.edu.

The Network Operations Center at Pitt

The Network Operations Center (or NOC) is "a state-of-the-art technical facility that houses servers and network equipment to ensure stable and reliable service for University enterprise systems. It is a centralized management center that is capable of identifying, notifying, and repairing problems when they occur and projecting when and where they might occur." Researchers at Pitt can discuss options for hosting research data at the NOC with CSSD by contacting the Help Desk  at 412-624-HELP [4357] or helpdesk@pitt.edu. For researchers who work with sensitive data, the NOC can provide a FISMA compliant environment. 

Box at Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh provides faculty, students, and staff with storage space on Box, a cloud storage option with collaborative features that allow users to provide access and edit privileges to others.  Information about how to use Box and its features can be found at CSSD's website: http://technology.pitt.edu/service/cloud-storage-pittboxcom

It is important to note that Box is not an appropriate home for storing some data types. For example, for research that involves human subjects, researchers should avoid storing identifiable data in Box. Find guidance from CSSD about making decisions about data storage and Box here: http://technology.pitt.edu/services/cloud-storage-box-and-onedrive