Managing Research Material
Research material refers to material produced or utilised with various methods during research on which the research results are based. There are many types of research materials; the discipline and research determine what kind of material is used. Research materials include survey and interview material, images, videos, measurements, notes made by researchers, software and source codes, samples and organised collections.
Material can come in different forms
The material can be digital, in which case the term “research data” is used, or it can be physical, such as paper material or samples collected from people or plants. Researchers can produce material themselves by collecting it with an appropriate method or utilise ready-made material produced by someone else.
Ready-made materials include ready-made documents, such as historical texts, literature, newspaper articles or open research material produced by someone else. You can search data repositories or archives for open research material. These ready-made materials provide students with opportunities to practice analysis with larger materials than they could collect themselves. Ready-made materials can also be used in addition to own material.
Open research material refers to material that has been made available to others. Fully open material is available online for free use. The use of material may also be subject to restrictions, in which case it is only available for a specific purpose, such as research and theses, or accessing it may require registering for a service.
The management of research material requires documenting
When collecting material, it is important to ensure that the material is processed and stored in a secure manner. From the beginning of the collection process, it is important the keep the material in order so that both the collector and other users know how and when the material has been collected, what kind of information it contains and how it can be found. This is where material documentation and metadata, or descriptive data, are needed. Metadata describes the context, content and structure of the material as well as their management and processing. Good and high-quality storage of metadata ensures the discoverability, preservation and further usability of data and research.