Research data is an inherent component of academic work and therefore essential for teaching and research. It is as diverse as research itself, which makes it hard to define.
All data that is produced in an academic research project – both new and processed data – is considered research data, regardless of whether it is used in a publication or not and whether it is available in analogue or digital form. Examples include data collected during field research and data recorded in the laboratory, as well as digital versions of analogue data.
More and more data is now digital. Digital research data is easier to make available and share, which promotes closer collaboration and interdisciplinary work in academic practice.
However, research data comes with technical, legal and ethical challenges. Furthermore, the use of digital data is more widely established in some disciplines than others in terms of the infrastructure for research data (repositories) and data publication.