Answered By: Bill Corey
Last Updated: Nov 18, 2015     Views: 20

All data that is generated during a research activity is research data.  These data can be in both digital and physical formats: text, documents, maps, images, spreadsheets, samples, numerical datasets, surveys, observations, codebooks, audio and video tapes, simulations, models, workflows, scripts, protein sequences, photographs, lab notebooks, protocols, procedures, diaries, etc. 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) states "data are any and all complex data entities from observations, experiments, simulations, models, and higher order assemblies, along with the associated documentation needed to describe and interpret the data." (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf0728/nsf0728_4.pdf)

Funders often have different definitions of research data, depending on their requirements.  For example, the OMB is focused on the reproducibility of data, and the verification of the research.  So they define research data as..."the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings, but not any of the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues." (OMB Circular 110 http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a110#36)

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