The attention paid to research data management (RDM) has grown exponentially in the past years. Data management policies are being formulated by research institutions, and funding institutions increasingly require a data management strategy from research projects. The arguments that accompany discourses on RDM are essentially twofold. On the one hand, research data should be opened up for collaborative work wherever appropriate and thereby be used more efficiently. On the other hand, research data should be stored after the end of a project in a way that allows for a verification of research results. Moreover, concerns about data privacy have gained importance and influence the debate on research ethics and responsibility towards the persons that are being studied.
In the light of these developments, the SFB has decided to devote particular attention to this topic in its second phase. This pilot project on RDM assumes the role of a pioneer in the social sciences and humanities at Leipzig University and aims at moving the debate forward – also beyond our university – from the specific perspective of the associated disciplines. The data and the material that is being dealt with in the fields of research that are part of the SFB are highly heterogeneous – they range from archival material to qualitative interviews, from field notes to prosopographic databases, and from large amounts of documents to the exploration of quantifiable material. Looking into RDM therefore involves, as an initial step, a critical reflection on the term “research data” itself, particularly questioning in how far it can and should be distinguished from terms such as “material” or “sources” used in various disciplines.