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Research Data Management for Researchers: RDM 2: Research Data Storage

Research Data Storage

Through the course of your research you will need to store your research working data so it is secure and backed up regularly, but still easily accessible by those who are authorised. Plymouth University provides space for storing your working data via OneDrive for Business.

OneDrive for Business is a cloud storage service that allows you to store, edit, share and collaborate on your work files and documents. It is safe for storing valuable research working data, even if it contains personal and confidential information.

Find out more: Office 365: OneDrive for Business at University of Plymouth

Storing data in OneDrive for Business: Check funder requirements

OneDrive for Business is cloud storage and sometimes Research Funders specify that research data must be physically housed within the University. Always check your contract before storing your data in OneDrive for Business. If your Research Funder requires you to avoid cloud storage and host your data in-house do not use OneDrive for Business. If you have questions, contact the IT Service Desk for advice.

Providing access to your data

OneDrive for Business allows you to share data easily with your collaborators, but you should think carefully about what you share, particularly if sensitive or valuable. With OneDrive for Business you can share a file or folder via a link or require collaborators to login before they can access the shared file. Sharing via link is not safe as you have no control over who will access the data. You should always require login to access the data and remove the access rights once the collaboration has concluded.

Office 365: Research Sites

Office 365 Research Sites are a cloud hosted working space for University research groups and institutes. 

Research groups can use them to create, store and share everyday working files with University colleagues and externals as well as providing additional tools such as calendars, image libraries, announcements, discussions and web pages.

View Demo Research site

More information and to request a research site


Storing data on devices

You may want to store data locally, for example, if you are going to be working off-line, in the field, or you need to manipulate it in a specialist application. If you are saving or syncing research data locally, the device must be encrypted, password protected and set to lock automatically after a period of inactivity no longer than 15 minutes. You should only sync sensitive or valuable data to a device for short-term use.

Support with encrypted devices

Encrypting your computer If you need to retain data on your laptop, you must get it encrypted before importing any data. Contact the IT Service Desk to request the encryption of your device.

Encrypted memory sticks and hard disk drives

During your research project you may need to store data on portable devices such as memory sticks and hard disk drives. You should only use portable devices for short-term storage of sensitive or valuable data and they must be encrypted to latest security standards. We recommend that you include costings for encrypted portable devices in your research funding application and Data Management Plan (DMP). You can get further advice by contacting the IT Service Desk.

Legal and ethical aspects

The University RDM policy requires that research data is:

Kept in a manner that is compliant with legal obligations and, where applicable, the requirements of funding bodies and project-specific protocols approved under the Plymouth University Research Ethics Policy

University of Plymouth RDM Policy

Ethical guidance is provided by the University, professional bodies, and funding organisations. University Data Protection and Information Security policies also apply.


FAQs: Research Data Storage

Yes, OneDrive for Business provides secure storage in Microsoft’s data centres (EU) certified to latest security standards. This means that your data is encrypted at rest and in motion. The University retains control of the data.
Yes, the Office 365 environment, including all your data in OneDrive for Business is backed up regularly.
Yes, the person you are sharing with will need to create a Microsoft account if they don’t have one already.

Staff Development

The following courses and resources are available:

RDM Resources