Research Data Management

Knowing how to organize and manage research data is one of the most important prerequisites for ensuring the quality, security, durability, and reproducibility of research data, both during a research project and in long-term. We advise, support individually and in groups through workshops and events around open research data and open science. If you have any questions about research data management and data management plans, please contact us via E-Mail:

Data Management Plan (DMP) review

We review your Data Management Plan (DMP) in 2-3 working days free of charge. If you would like to get detailed feedback, please send your DMP along with your research plan. We help you to manage your data during the whole project life cycle and to share your data ethically and in compliance with the FAIR data principles. Please upload your DMP here.

Research data is "data collected or produced (e.g. measurements, questionnaires or source materials) in the course of scholarly activity which is used for the purposes of academic research (e.g. digital copies) or which document research findings [...]". 

Some examples of research data

  • Sources: Texts, images, sound recordings, films/videos
  • Observations: Real-time data, examination data
  • Experiments: Laboratory values, spectrograms
  • Simulations: Simulation measurements, model measurements
  • References: Collection of already published datasets
  • Methodological methods such as questionnaires, software or simulations

A data management plan (DMP) forms the basis of good research data management. The DMP describes the life cycle of research data and is intended for long-term use. It describes how the data is to be produced, collected, documented, published and archived during a project.

An integral part of a DMP is the description of the research data in accordance with the FAIR principles. Among other things, a DMP should include information about the following:

  • Data collection and documentation
  • Ethical, legal and security issues
  • Data storage and preservation
  • Data exchange and reuse

The DMP is submitted along with the project proposal (SNF) or shortly after the project has commenced (H2020), and it should be updated and extended at regular intervals. As it describes discipline-specific practices and standards, the content may differ from project to project.

Further information about requirements can be found under Funding requirements.


Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

The DMP is an integral part of the research application. The application cannot be submitted until the DMP has been completed. The DMP must be written in the same language as the research plan. The SNSF contributes up to 10’000 CHF to the costs of making research data accessible, under the condition that the repositories used for data sharing meet certain requirements (AR 2.13). The application for this additional funding must be taken into account when submitting the application. For more information, see the SNSF guidelines for researchers.


Horizon 2020

You must submit a DMP no later than six months after the start of the project to the EU’s project management portal. A template with guidance can be downloaded here.

All projects are part of the "Open Data Pilot", i.e. researchers must make research data underlying publications openly accessible. Exceptions for ethical, legal, contractual, copyright, and similar reasons are possible ("opt-out"), but they must be justified to the EU.

The European Research Council (ERC) requirements differ from the general Horizon2020 requirements only in details. This page gives a good overview and links to further resources and the ERC DMP form.

Horizon Europe

The detailed specifications under Horizon Europe have not yet been communicated at this time (September 2021).

However, it is already clear that researchers will have to manage research data in accordance with the FAIR data principles. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable. Specifically, this means:

  • Researchers must develop, submit and continuously update a DMP.
  • Researchers must share research data as openly as possible, as closed as necessary. This means that data must be openly shared on a research data repository, provided there are no legal, copyright, ethical, contractual or similar obstacles. Unlike under Horizon2020, the EU requires a mandatory CC0 or CC-BY license (or equivalents).

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Effective January 25, 2023, the following guidelines apply to NIH-funded projects:

Researchers must develop and submit a data management plan together with the project application, and update it regularly. The NIH will review the DMP. They may also review implementation during the life of the project. Failure to comply may affect the success chances of future applications.

In addition, researchers must share research data as soon as possible, at the latest at the time of a related publication appears or at the end of the project (whichever comes first). Legal and ethical considerations must be taken into account.

To avoid errors, mix-ups and long search times in future, it is worth investing some time in creating a systematically organized file and folder structure already at the start of a project. This is especially important if you are collaborating with other research groups. Everyone involved in a project should agree to a scheme and stick to it. It is advisable to record the organizational and naming scheme in a document which you subsequently deposit with the published data as an accompanying document.

  • Group related files in folders (e.g. for measurements, methods or project phases)
  • Use clear, unique folder names
  • Use a hierarchical folder structure (N.B.: too many nested levels results in long and complicated filepaths)
  • Keep active and completed work in separate folders and delete any temporary files that are no longer required.

Make sure you use file names that are unique and are also meaningful for people who are not involved in the project. General elements that can form part of a name:

  • Creation date (YYYY-MM-DD)
  • Project reference/name
  • Description of the content
  • Name of creator (initials or whole name)
  • Name of research team/department
  • Version number

To avoid operating system constraints, use the following character/naming conventions:

  • Short names
  • No special characters (: & * % $ £ ] { ! @)
  • Use underscores _ rather than blank spaces or dots
  • Include a file suffix wherever possible (.txt, .xls, etc.)
  • Do not rely on uppercase/lowercase distinctions

The careful choice of a file format can ensure that files can still be used after many years and consequently greatly facilitate reuse of the research data. When choosing a suitable format, various factors should be taken into consideration:

  • Future-proofing: how many software products can read the data format?
  • Open access to documentation
  • No legal constraints (patents)
  • No technical constraints (encryption, DRM)
  • Established in community

The file formats for research data can vary widely depending on the discipline in question. The following file formats are recommended:

  • Images: TIFF, TIF
  • Documents: TXT, ASC, PDF/A
  • Tabular data: CSV
  • Audio files: WAV
  • Databases: SQL, XML
  • Structured data: XML, JSON, YAML

Further information about which file formats are recommended for long-term preservation can be found at here.

It is essential to use version control, especially for datasets that change over the course of a project. Individual datasets should be named sequentially and the names should include the save date (YYYY-MM-DD) along with the version number. The final version should be indicated as such. Maintaining a version table in which all changes and new names are recorded can help keep track of the datasets.

Especially when working with a number of different people, it may be advisable to regularly save a milestone version of the file which then must not be changed or deleted.

To summarize, recommends:

  • Use sequential numbering
  • Include the date and version number in the name
  • Use a version control table
  • Specify who is responsible for providing the final files
  • Use version control software for large data volumes
  • Save milestone versions

Further information and best practices

We recommend you back up your data using the university's IT system as it collects the data campus-wide and redundantly backs it up to two state-of-the-art tape libraries.

Click here for more information: Campus Backup/Archive (access only via campus network)

You should always adopt the 3-2-1 backup strategy:

  • 3 copies of the data (1 original + 2 backups)
  • Stored on 2 different types of media (external hard drives, USB sticks, SD cards, CDs, DVDs, Cloud)
  • 1 copy off-site

Backup should be automated to run at regular intervals. Check that the backup was successful and that the data can be retrieved again if necessary.

Comprehensive documentation is essential to enable correct interpretation and reuse of the data at a later date. Among other things, the documentation should include details about the time and place the data was collected, the methods, tools, software and statistics models used, as well as information about the parameters chosen and any missing values, along with nomenclature and acronyms.

Click here for further information.

Metadata is information about data which is created in a structured and machine-readable form. The metadata helps other researchers find and reuse data. Depending on the particular discipline, there are various commonly used metadata standards and tools that can be used to describe datasets in different domains.

The repository of the University of Bern (BORIS) uses the Dublin Core metadata element set. This metadata is automatically generated by filling in a form when depositing a dataset in the repository.

The decision about what data for a project should be archived and for how long depends on the academic value of the data as well as on legal, regulatory and financial factors.

As a minimum, however, all the data on which a publication is based must be stored and the corresponding metadata must be published online.

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and list five steps for deciding what data to keep.

Whenever possible, data should be deposited in subject-specific repositories. These are geared to the needs of the subject area, are familiar with specific data formats and often also offer subject-specific metadata.

Which data repositories can be used? A comprehensive list of data repositories is provided by the SNSF (the SNSF list is not exhaustive) and Scientific Data.

The best starting point for your search for a suitable repository is Research Data Repositories (

An institutional data repository (BORIS Portal Research Data, Research Project, Research Funding) has been officially launched. BORIS Portal allows you to archive and manage research data, to determine access options and manage rights, as well as to link project and researchers’ profiles, to make it accessible and clearly identifiable. Login to BORIS Portal research data, projects and fundings via your campus account.

Sharing figure

Figshare  - store, share and discover research.

Sharing methods A secure platform for the development and exchange of reproducible methods.

Before being published, data should be provided with a license. You could use Creative Commons licenses version 4.0 to do so. You find more information about Creative Commons licenses here.

As part of the FAIR principles, funding bodies require a unique identifier to be assigned to the published data. When depositing your data in BORIS, a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is assigned to each dataset. Click here for further information.

Research data generated and collected during a project can often be useful beyond its original purpose. It is therefore worthwhile making the data obtained publicly accessible. For this purpose it is important to ensure that your data is assigned persistent identifiers, good metadata is generated and sufficient documentation is provided to enable the data to be reused.
There are currently three ways of publishing research data.

Publication in a repository

Research data can be published in a disciplinary or a general repository. If possible, it is preferable to publish data in a disciplinary repository rather than in a generic one. Further information about selecting a suitable repository can be found in Finding a repository.

Publication in a data journal

Data papers published in data journals are documents that facilitate the dissemination and reuse of published data. These publications contain all information about data collection, methods, licenses and access rights along with information about potential reuse opportunities. The data itself is usually deposited in a repository.

The website of the Humboldt University of Berlin has a list of data journals.

Publication as a supplement to an article

Data can also be published as additional information for an article in a periodical. This is usually the data on which the publication is based which enables the findings to be understood. The data may either be deposited directly on the periodical's platform or in an external data repository.  

When citing data it is advisable to use either the standards applicable to the research field in question or the form suggested by the repository in which the dataset was deposited. If there are no particular standards or recommendations, Datacite recommends providing the following details as a minimum:

  • Author
  • Year of publication (of the dataset)
  • Title
  • Edition or version (optional)
  • Publisher (for data this is usually the archive in which the data is stored)
  • Resource type (optional)
  • Persistent identifier (as a permanent linkable URL)

Information and action guide for publishing open source software.

Training and workshops in research data management aim to support researchers at the University of Bern to manage research data through the whole research data lifecycle from initiation, planning, the start of the project until the end of the project. Moreover, many funding agencies, such as the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the European Commission (e.g., H2020/Horizon Europe), require grant applicants to develop a data management plan (DMP) and demonstrate experience in data sharing and open science in order to receive a grant.

BORIS Portal Research Data, Projects and Fundings
Zum Kursangebot
Zu BORIS Portal Login

Complying with SNSF requirements

The research projects funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) are obliged to publish research articles under Open Access and make data publicly accessible in research data repositories if there are no legal, ethical, copyright or other issues applied. We offer training to support you in complying with this obligation.

 Date  Time Faculty  Language  Place  Anmeldung
10:00-12:00 h
  •  Faculty of Science






14:00-16:00 h
  • Faculty of Medicine

  • Vetsuisse Faculty



 20.10.2021  10:00-12:00 h
  • Faculty of Humanities

  • Faculty of Human Sciences

  • Faculty of Law

  • Faculty of Theology

  • Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences




Complying with Horizon Europe 2021-2027 requirements

Researchers holding an EU grant are required to make their research publications and research data openly available. We offer you and your research team dedicated workshops where we explain the requirements under EU H2020 in detail and offer advice addressing your specific questions.

We will offer similar workshops for EU Horizon Europe as well, as soon as the first projects are approved. Anyone from your research team who is interested in these workshops is also welcome!

These workshops will take place via Zoom.  Please note that the University of Bern requires you to confirm that you know your obligations vis-à-vis the EU. To do this, you are asked to sign a “Directive on the implementation of EU projects” the University has prepared. The Open Science Team will advise you on how to do this.

Open Access Requirements in Horizon 2020 ERC

 Date Time Faculty Language  Place
 19.08.2021  10:00-11:00  all  English Zoom
 16.09.2021  14:00-15:00  all  English Zoom
 18.10.2021  15:00-16:00  all  English Zoom
 16.11.2021  14:00-15:00  all  English Zoom
 Date  Time   Title  Language  Place
 07.09.2021  13:00-14:00

How to manage research data ethically?

We are at the Open Science Team, Research Data Management group happy to announce a new workshop entitled “How to manage research data ethically?” You will learn how to deal with ethical questions relevant to your research. Dos and Don’ts around ethics, an overview of data management phases, and a timeline will help you successfully submit your project on time and share data ethically. Furthermore, you will learn about contacts relevant for ethics in research and legal questions at the University of Bern. The presentation is available under the BORIS DOI 10.48350/159226, URI

 English Zoom Meeting link
 14.09.2021  10:00-11:00  Data quality and metadata standards

At the Open Science Team, research data management group we are happy to introduce you a new data quality management workshop, where you will be familiarized with the data quality dimensions, metadata and controlled vocabularies, good laboratory and good clinical practice, documentation, data quality control, and data cleaning. The presentation is available under the BORIS DOI 10.48350/159328, URL


Zoom Meeting Link

02.11.2021 and  05. 11.2021, 8:30-12:00 h, Zoom. Registration to the course is available here.