Research data are defined as the evidence on which academic researchers build their analytic or other workHEFCE 2008
Research data are collected, observed or created, for the purposes of analysis to produce and validate original research results
Data can take many forms
The data lifecycle can extend well beyond the boundaries of a research project. From early planning stages to the long term storage of data and its reuse by others in the research community, there are discrete phases in the research data management cycle.
The UK Data Archive provides a very useful explanation of research data management activities at each stage of the research lifecycle.