Managing data – free online course

MANTRA is a free, non-assessed course with guidelines to help you understand and reflect on how to manage the data you collect throughout your research. The course is particularly appropriate for those who work with digital data.

Through a series of interactive online units you will learn about terminology, key concepts, and best practice in data management.

On completion of this course you will:

  • Be aware of the risk of data loss and data protection requirements.
  • Know how to store and transport your data safely and securely (backup and encryption).
  • Have experience in using data in software packages such as R, SPSS, NVivo, or ArcGIS.
  • Recognise the importance of good research data management practice in your own context.
  • Be able to devise a research data management plan and apply it throughout the projects life.
  • Be able to organise and document your data efficiently during the course of your project.
  • Understand the benefits of sharing data and how to do it legally and ethically.

To fully benefit from this course you need to make sure you have:

  • Regular access to a computer or mobile device with internet connection
  • Internet and computer literacy.
  • The ability to view video and play sound on your computer (HTML5 enabled browser).
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF files. You can download Acrobat Reader from:
  • The ability to manage your time effectively and the motivation to learn independently.

There are eight units and four data handling practicals: R, SPSS, NVivo, and ArcGIS. Each unit takes up to one hour, plus time for recommended resources and software practicals. In the units you will find explanations, descriptions, examples, exercises, and video clips in which academics, PhD students and others talk about the challenges of managing research data.

MANTRA is maintained by Data Library staff in Information Services, University of Edinburgh. It was originally developed in collaboration with the Institute for Academic Development as part of a Jisc-funded Managing Research Data project (2010). The content was developed based on a needs assessment with three postgraduate training programmes at the University of Edinburgh in the fields of geosciences, social and political sciences and clinical psychology.

You are free to re-use part or all of this work. Please see the Acknowledgements page for conditions of the open licence.

A digital version of the MANTRA leaflet can be found here. Printed MANTRA leaflets are available for distribution on request. Please contact the Data Library.


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