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Costing RDM into bids

A number of research funders, including UKRI/RCUK, specify that Research Data Management (RDM) is an allowable expense to be included in bids for funding. For more information on allowable costs for UKRI/RCUK bids see: FAQs - including costs of Research Data Management in RCUK bids (pdf).

Costing RDM is a complex issue as there are many variables to be considered. You should decide which resources you will need during the bidding process, and include costs in your data management plan or grant bid as appropriate.

The following questions are designed to help you think about where costs for RDM might arise. For further advice on how to cost these elements, contact the Library Services Research Support Team.

1. What are your funder’s requirements?

Make sure you are aware from the outset of your funder’s demands and the costs of meeting those demands.

Some funders specify a data archive or repository to which research data must be offered (although be aware that your data may not always be accepted). Wherever possible speak to someone at the archive/repository when writing your grant application in order to find out what you will need to provide in terms of:

  • Data quality
  • Metadata and documentation
  • Any costs of long-term preservation payable by the grant (and are these one-off payments or an annual fee)
  • Data cleaning
  • Data validation
  • Data editing
  • Consent documentation and encryption
  • Compliance with national/international archiving protocols

2. Who will be responsible for Research Data Management?

If you are collecting a large quantity of complex data you may want to consider having a dedicated data manager role on the team. This role would need to be costed in the same way as other staff time.

Alternatively, you may wish to divide responsibilities between team members, but bear in mind that you will then need to account for training and time spent on RDM. Time spent on RDM cannot be spent on research and therefore this needs costing into the bid.

3. Which data management activities will be necessary and how much time/resource is needed to carry out these activities?

Research data management activities which may incur costs include:

  • Formatting and organising data
  • Preparing documentation
  • Describing data
  • Data sharing
  • Transcribing data
  • Digitisation
  • Creating/preparing metadata
  • Data security processes
  • Data back-up
  • Data transfer and access
  • Copyright
  • Migrating file formats
  • Anonymisation

A useful resource for determining how long these activities may take is the UK Data Service Data Management Costing Tool.

When your project nears the end you do not want these additional data management activities to compete with delivery of your planned outputs, so make sure you plan ahead and aim to keep on top of data management throughout your project.

4. Where will you store and back-up data?

OU researchers are expected to store and back-up data on OU managed servers, provided by central IT Services or by your faculty. Currently, unlimited data storage space is available to researchers free of charge.

5. Will you need to purchase any software for the project?

You may need to purchase some software to help with some aspects of RDM, for example anonymisation or transcription. For advice on purchasing software, consult IT procurement (requires login).

6. Where will you archive your data?

See the Guidelines for selecting research data for retention and preservation (pdf) for advice on which data to keep post-project. In most cases these data should be made publicly available, unless there are ethical, legal or commercial reasons not to do so.

If your chosen archive charges for long-term preservation, find out whether this is an up-front payment, or an annual fee. Most funders require all budgets to be spent before the end of the grant, so it is important to be aware of this and work out how you will be able to include archiving in your costing.

Contact the Library Research Support team