Management of Research Data: Launch of the Project “Data Life-Cycle Management”

Researchers at all Swiss universities face mounting challenges in the management of their research data (see also blog entries from 12/5/2014 and 16/12/2013). It is not simply a question of storing increasing amounts of data; solutions are called for that also support the documentation, sharing and publication of data and ensure that it is available in the long term. ETH-Bibliothek and ETH Zurich’s IT Services are also addressing these issues.

Switzerland-wide project “Data Life-Cycle Management (DLCM)”

It is unwise for each university to go its own way. Consequently, on behalf of the Swiss University Conference (SUC), swissuniversities is conducting the programme SUK P-2 “Scientific Information: Access, Processing and Safeguarding”, which is chiefly designed to improve the handling of scientific information. As part of this programme, the project “Research Data Life-Cycle Management: From Pilot Implementations to National Services (DLCM)” was approved on 22 June 2015. It started in August 2015 and runs until July 2018.

National solutions for the management of research data

The main goal of the project is to create sustainable and concrete solutions at national level for data management throughout the entire lifecycle of research data (Research Data Life Cycle Management). The challenges range from the efficient processing and storage of large amounts of data and the prompt documentation of connections and dependencies all the way to the publication and long-term archiving of relevant data. This requires effective technical solutions, but also clear and comprehensible standards for best practices.

Various institutions already have promising solutions and approaches to address these challenges. The project builds on these foundations with a view to creating viable services for the entire higher education landscape in the future.

2015-09-08_data-life-cicleFigure 1: Eliane Blumer, Pierre-Yves Burgi: Data Life-Cycle (based on UK Data Archive)

ETH Zurich’s involvement

From ETH Zurich, the Digital Curation Office of ETH-Bibliothek and the Department ID Scientific IT Services are involved in the project. They develop their experiences from their previous work in research data management further, intensify their existing collaboration and make the results available at national level.

The contributions from the partners roughly follow the data’s lifecycle: for instance, ETH-Bibliothek already sets up a consultation on data management before the commencement of a research project when demands from the sponsors are to be taken into account. While the work is underway during a research project, data can be managed on the platform openBIS, for instance, which the ID Scientific IT Services develop and support for the management of data in the research process – thus far primarily for biology.

Data that is not processed any further can subsequently be filed in ETH-Bibliothek’s ETH Data Archive. If data is also to be made publicly accessible there, it can be cited permanently with the aid of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

As part of the DLCM project, these individual ETH-Zurich services are to be combined even more effectively with each other and with international, subject-specific services of the scientific disciplines. This relieves researchers of routine responsibilities in data management, which pose an increasing challenge.


Figure 2: Websites of involved ETH-institutions

Involvement of other partners

DLCM is a joint project featuring the following partners:

  • EPF Lausanne
  • ETH Zurich
  • Universities of Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich
  • University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HEG Genève)

The project is headed by Dr Pierre-Yves Burgi (Université de Genève). His deputy is Dr Bernd Rinn, Head of the Department of Scientific IT Services of ETH Zurich’s IT Services.

Duration and overall budget

The DLCM project is due to last three years and begins in August 2015. The SUC and the institutions involved contribute CHF 5.7 million and CHF 5 million respectively to the overall budget of CHF 10.7 million. The funding has been approved until the end of 2016. The continuation of the project until July 2018 falls under the next budgeting period. The funds for 2017 and 2018 have been agreed provisionally subject to the extension of the SUC programme in the period 2017 to 2020.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License.

DOI Link: 10.16911/ethz-ib-1992-en

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