Handling non-digital data

Non-digital data

Not all research data is digital. Most researchers keep hand-written laboratory notebooks, journals and other materials which are not kept on a computer at all.

These materials are at particular risk of loss, as you only have one of them so it's worth thinking about how you can make them safer. Digitising them can be easy on a small scale, and even if you only use the non-digital version, having a digital version too can give you some valuable piece of mind.

Anything stored on paper can be scanned fairly easily: find out how to scan directly to your University storage using any of the managed printers on campus (Library). If it's not easy to scan, you could try taking a digital photo, but check the quality of the image to make sure you can use it if you lose the original.

Audio recordings can easily be turned into digital sound files, if the sound content is important, or transcribed if only the words are needed. You can do this yourself, or employ a professional transcription service if you have a lot of recordings to digitise.

Other materials can also be digitised, with varying degrees of difficulty. For more detail on digitisation, take a look at these digitisation guides from JISC Digital Media.

If the data or artefact absolutely cannot be digitised for some reason, you should make sure that it's protected some other way. A fireproof safe could be a good investment.

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