‘Sharing data promotes scientific research’

PhD student Corjan Nolet was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that his data had been reused by a research group at the University of Twente. This is an example of how data archiving aids the progress of science.

Photo: Hollandse Hoogte

Corjan Nolet:
‘If your data sets are reused by others, you get extra academic exposure and credit’

Corjan Nolet is a PhD student at the Soil Physics and Land Management group (SLM) and is part of a study investigating nature-driven nutrition of coastal systems. This programme investigates the dynamic character of the Sand Motor, an artificial sandbank that was constructed off the coast of Zuid-Holland near Ter Heijde. For his research, Nolet studied the impact of the Sand Motor on the adjacent dunes.

For the project, scientists investigated whether sand can be spread naturally along the coast by offering opportunities to nature to do so while protecting the coast at the same time. For a year and a half Corjan Nolet monitored the changes in the volume of dunes in a natural dune area of 8 hectares along the coast using a drone with a camera.

Data Management Plan

Since 2014, all PhD students at WUR are required to draw up a Data Management Plan (DMP). ‘When writing our DMP, I wanted to ensure that my research data would be accessible to other researchers,’ says Nolet. ‘Other PhD students in the project wrote a DMP to define their scientific integrity.’

Working with a drone makes storing and sharing data a challenge. On each flight, the drone collected 50 GB of image data. ‘The camera takes many photos to create one large panoramic photo with a high spatial resolution,’ explains Nolet. ‘That makes this data valuable for reuse, but because each file is very large, the photos were difficult to share on the university's W: drive.’ Nolet therefore stored his data on multiple hard drives.

Working with a drone makes storing and sharing data a challenge

However, this method was not in compliance with the current WUR policy. And Nolet admits that it wasn't the safest way to store this data either. ‘At the time, it was not yet feasible to store such large amounts of data on the cloud, hence the need for the hard drives. Because I was aware that a hard drive is vulnerable, I always made copies. But I realise that it wasn't the best way to work.’

The new WUR Data Management Policy does not allow such use of hard drives for security reasons. All research data must be stored on WUR servers or in the cloud. If you experience any problems with this, you can contact Data Management Support.

How do you archive your data once your research is completed?

Archiving for reuse

Following the publication of his scientific article, Nolet archived his data set in the 4TU Data Archive. This archive provides the knowledge, experience and tools needed to archive research data in a standardised, secure and well-documented way. The archiving process is supported by Data Management Support and is free of charge in most cases.

The 4TU Data Archive provides the knowledge, experience and tools needed to archive research in a secure and well-documented way

Because Corjan Nolet had archived his data set correctly, the Natural Resources Management department of the University of Twente was able to use it again. ‘The researchers used various parts of my data sets. They also clearly referenced the data to my research. It was great to see myself referenced, as I hadn't expected it at all.’

Corjan Nolet understands the value of the reuse of data and referencing. ‘If your data sets are reused by others and referenced properly, this means extra academic exposure and credit for the creators of the data set.’

How to store your data during research

Would you like to find out where to best save your data during your research?