This glossary is not meant to be comprehensive; rather, we offer definitions for selected terms we've used elsewhere on this research guide.
Data about individuals that does not reveal the identity of any of the individuals, and cannot be linked to other data that would reveal the identity of individuals.
The transfer of material to a facility that appraises, preserves, and provides access to that material on a long-term or permanent basis.
Computer code or scripts. In the context of data management, this may include code used in the collection, manipulation, processing, analysis or visualization of data, but may also include software developed for other purposes.
The right of privacy and of non-release of disclosed personal information. Applies to data collected on human subjects. Researchers may be subject to legal requirements to prevent the release of private, personally identifiable information provided by research subjects.
A set of legal rights extended to copyright owners (the author or creator, or other party to whom the rights have been assigned) that govern such activities as reproducing, distributing, adapting, or exhibiting original works fixed in tangible form. Copyright does not apply to factual information; as a result it does not apply to data. For more on copyright and data, see our Basic Intellectual Property Rights in Data Management page.
Encoded information, often in the form of quantities, characters, or symbols upon which statistical operations may be performed. Data subject to data management planning requirements may be defined differently by different funders, programs, or research communities. In developing a data management plan, consider which data would be required to verify your results and which data would have the highest potential and value for reuse by others.
Derivative (of data)
Any data, publication, illustration or visualization, or other work that rearranges, presents, or otherwise makes use of an existing data set.
The particular structure used for encoding data in a computer file. File formats are usually identified by the file extension (e.g. .xlsx, .csv, .dbf). File formats may be proprietary or open (with a readily available specification or description of the format). Open file formats usually maximize the potential for reuse and longevity. For more information about preservation and file formats, see our file formats page.
A unique and long-lasting reference that allows for continued access to a digital object. Examples of persistent identifier systems include Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), handles, and Archival Resources Keys (ARKs). Persistent identifiers support interoperability and the reliable citation of digital content.
A service storing and providing online access to digital content. Content is typically produced by the institution that hosts the service. Georgia Southern's institutional repository is Digital Commons @ Georgia Southern.
Rights applied to creative works, including (but not limited to) copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. For more information, see our Basic Intellectual Property Rights in Data Management page.
Lossless and Lossy File Compression
Lossless and lossy file compression describe whether all original data can be recovered from a compressed file when it is uncompressed. With lossless compression, every bit of data originally appearing in the file remains accessible after the file is uncompressed. Lossless compression is preferred for preservation of data files, where loss of any original data may compromise its use or value.
Documentation or information about a data set. It may be embedded in the data itself, or exist separately from the data. Metadata may describe the ownership, purpose, methods, organization, and conditions for use of data, technical information about the data, and other information. Many metadata standards exist across a broad range of disciplines and applications. For more information, see our Metadata and Describing Data page.
Preservation (of data)
Ensuring that data remain intact, accessible and understandable over time. This requires preserving the integrity of digital files themselves, and can be considerably more complicated. Preservation operations may include preserving the software required to interact with the data or emulating older systems, migrating data to new formats and new media, and ensuring there is sufficient metadata to understand, interpret, manage and preserve the data.
The protection of personal information from unauthorized access by others.
Restricted Data or Restricted-Access Data
Data which are made available under stringent, secure conditions. Typically confidential or sensitive data.
Methods of protecting data from unauthorized access, modification, or destruction.
Accepted methods or models of practice; these may be formally approved (as in NISO standards), or de facto standards. In the context of data management, standards typically apply to data or file formats, and to metadata.
Confidential information of commercial value. Trade secrets are often exempted from funding organizations' and publishers' definitions of data.
An expression of the conditions under which a data set may be used. May be formal, as in a license or contract, or an informal expression of the preferences of the data owner(s).
For more information, contact the Digital Commons Team at (912) 478-4056 or email@example.com. A member of the Digital Commons Team will contact you as soon as possible during regular business hours.
Portions of this guide are adapted from the Cornell University Research Data Management Services Group website under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.