Data Frequently Asked Questions

Research data are "data that are used as primary sources to support technical or scientific enquiry, research, scholarship, or artistic activity, and that are used as evidence in the research process and/or are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings and results." (Source: Curating Research Data: Volume One, Lisa R. Johnston, Ed., Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017)

For more information on types of data, please see the DMPTool's web page on "Data management general guidance."

A data management plan formally outlines how you will make your data accessible and store it over the long-term. It also includes information about the data (metadata).

Yes, you should consider using DMPTool, a cooperative service hosted by the University of California Curation Center of the California Digital Library. SMU is a participating institution. To set up your DMPTool account, use your SMU email and password.

Depending on the size of your files, you can make your data accessible through SMU's institutional repository, SMU Scholar (File size limit: 2 GB per file). Data in SMU Scholar are preserved by SMU Libraries as part of our Digital Preservation Program, which follows best practices for digital preservation. Other options include third-party repositories that are specific to your discipline and/or Box (File size limit: 15 GB per file).

Digital Commons maintains numerous backups to safeguard your content. For additional security, you may wish to place copies of your files in Box, which is also backed up in multiple locations.

SMU does not currently mandate its faculty to make their research data openly accessible. The university is federally mandated only to protect and disseminate all data generated by federal funds.

As long as the research data were generated as part of your duties while you are employed by SMU, SMU owns the data.

SMU librarians are available to consult with you on data management and planning. Contact us at

There are several online repositories where you can store and/or make your data accessible online. Some are discipline-specific and accept only data, whereas others are not, like the examples given below

SMU Scholar

SMU Scholar is an institutional repository managed by Bepress. Users can submit different types of materials into designated collections for public open access. SMU Scholar provides a central location for all university research output and has a simple submission process. There is a 2 GB per file limit for items uploaded to SMU Scholar. Materials uploaded to SMU Scholar will be harvested into the university digital preservation system, Rosetta.


Box is a cloud storage and file hosting system. Users create boxes and folders containing items and manage permissions for these items. Currently the university contract with Box allows for unlimited storage space and Box allows users to take advantage of the cloud storage distributive model. There is a 15 GB file size limit which might be a hindrance if researchers want to keep files together in a large zip file. 

Click here to see the Research Data Management Support policy.