Finding the Right Equipment
To collect and care for your research data, you will need the right equipment. Especially when starting new research activities or entering a new data collection scenario, it can be challenging to predict which equipment you will need. Here are some things to take into account.
Good research, as well as the researcher’s safety and security, require reliable equipment that fulfil the current standards and requirements. You may find that you’ll need to update, replace, rent, share or borrow equipment. You might even need to re-assess your research design before you start collecting data. Some of the possible actions require time and planning – e.g. applying for funds or getting repairs done – so don’t leave it until shortly before the start of the data collection.
Before you start collecting data – and especially if you’re leaving for a longer period of time - make sure that devices such as laptops have all relevant software updates, that there are no issues with the hardware, and data transfer, data protection, back-up and communication options are sorted.
It can be difficult to predict if the quality of the data you’re going to collect will be good enough. To assess this, do a trial run of the intended data collection. Simulate an interview situation, for example, or take test photographs. Then perform all the following steps in data transfer, processing and analysis.
When deciding which equipment to use, it’s important to assess the risks to the different types of equipment (and research data). Whether you’re conducting field work or desk research, it’s crucial to properly protect your equipment and data. Always consider they could get lost, stolen or damaged. You can check out the information that your university provides on information security and data protection, and ask for advice where needed.
Finally, if you’re going to collect data in a context that is new to you, find out enough about the scenario to assess if your usual equipment is suitable there. For example, if you’re entering a secured building, you may be asked to leave all your multifunctional electronic devices in a locker. These types of situations, you should plan for in advance.
This entry was based on the following blog post:
- Boom, M.S. (2019) Equipment don’t fail me now. Available at:
- The Data Management Expert Guide by CESSDA ERIC Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives European Infrastructure Consortium.
According to the website, "this guide is designed by European experts to help social science researchers make their research data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR)". Here you will find, among others, an an overview of technical and organisational measures you can take to protect your data.
- Cybersave Yourself (CSY)
This website was developed for students and staff of research universities and universities of applied sciences. CSY contains tips, videos and games to better understand ‘cyber threats’ and what individuals can do to protect themselves.