We love data

Why data management matters

  • Forschungsdienstleistung

Have you ever tried to remember where you stored all these nuts for the winter and, after finally rediscovering them, found that part of them had sprouted into saplings, some had ended up in the digestive tracts of various critters and the rest were either dry and tasteless or belonged to your neighbour?

Well, probably not, as you’re not a squirrel storing nuts for winter. However, there are many similarities between squirrels and researchers, who often have to try to remember where a certain data file is that they haven’t looked at for a long time.

Managing and safeguarding your data can be as difficult a task as managing nuts is for a squirrel. If data is not handled properly, it goes forgotten, its context is lost, and the files might fall prey to bit rot or data degradation and thus become unreadable. 1 Trying to find, understand and restore lost data can drive even the most stoic scientist nuts.Click to tweet

This is where ETH Library comes in: We are your friendly neighbourhood elephant, with a very good memory and tips about how to handle those heaps of nuts… er… data.

One nut here and one nut there… oh I put them everywhere! How should I remember where I put which ones? I’d better ask the elephant, he’s good at remembering things.
Hello friend! I’m storing our stash of nuts for winter snacking. Let me show you where they are so you can help me organise and remember where I put them.
Aaah, another great collaboration. Thanks to my nut collection skills and your long-term memory, we can enjoy another delicious winter.

How do we love data?

ETH Library loves data in many ways – by providing them, taking care of their management, storage and preservation, helping them reach a wider audience and instructing their creators about how to best handle them. 2

Besides providing professional research data management, ETH Library offers support and training for researchers at ETH Zurich.Click to tweet Training courses 3 on information research, reference management, data management 4 , scientific writing and open access are also offered.
Tailor-made consulting 5 on the topic of research data management for groups and individuals is available at ETH Library as well. Furthermore, the library supports researchers during the creation of data management plans and advises them about how to comply with funders’ requirements.

ETH Library is also a provider of open data 6 . It networks its own metadata with data from other social and knowledge fields for linked open data and a semantic web.
Preservation of data is another important aspect of ETH Library’s portfolio. Researchers at ETH Zurich are expected to manage their data responsibly, following Good Scientific Practice as laid out in ETH Zurich’s Guidelines for Research Integrity 7 . By publishing research data in the Research Collection, ETH Zurich’s repository, the data are by default additionally preserved in the ETH Data Archive. You may check ETH Zurich’s current collection of archived research data on ETH Library’s website.

Last but not least, ETH Library offers informational material 8 for reference and self-study regarding archivable file formats, data management planning, and other questions concerning data management and preservation.

ETH Library’s services all around data

From training and consulting to publication and preservation

1. Support and training

ETH Library offers training courses on various topics.

2. Consulting

Individual support on all things related to research data management.

3. Open data

ETH Library provides various kinds of data openly accessible.

4. Preservation

Expertise in data preservation is important to ETH Library.

5. Publication

Publish your data in ETH Zurich’s Research Collection.

6. Informational material

Find checklists and reference material on ETH Library’s website.

Our users love data too

Researchers at ETH Zurich are important users of ETH Library. They create and work with data on a daily basis as it is essential for their research. Here is what some of them said when we asked why and how they love data:

I love data because it’s the basis of scientific understanding. 9

— Annette Oxenius, Prof. ETH Zurich, Institute of Microbiology

Gut feelings are treacherous. In science, you need more than just a hunch. Therefore, carefully collected long-term data is worth its value in gold. 10

— Andreas Fischlin, Prof. em. ETH Zurich, Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics

We cannot gain new insight without robust data. Without this databased knowledge, we’re virtually blind. This is why we developed a comprehensive data management system in the last few years. 11

— Nina Buchmann, Prof. ETH Zurich, Institute of Agricultural Sciences

Transparent handling and open access to data of any kind is essential for our work. Data management plans and our commitment to open data create an important basis for this. 12

— Robert Finger, Prof. ETH Zurich, Dept. of Management, Technology and Economics

Doing research in our field means collecting and creating data – be it in the lab, field or through computer simulations. The analysis of this data leads us to new insights and at the same time creates new questions. 13

— Ulrike Lohmann, Prof. ETH Zurich, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science

Love your data!

Loving data is second nature to researchers and librarians, to name but a few professions.Click to tweet Everybody should love their data. This can start with something as simple as backing up your computer regularly to prevent data loss. If you would like to learn more about data degradation, our story “Surfing the sea of data. Handling data storage and preventing degradation” gives you six easy tips 14 to keep your data safe and thus to show how much you love your data.


  1. https://www.explora.ulapiluh.myhostpoint.ch/en/s/surfing-the-sea-of-data ↩︎
  2. This story has been published in the context of the international Love Data Week from 12 to 16 February 2018. For more information, please go to http://lovedataweek.org/. ↩︎
  3. https://library.ethz.ch/en/news/courses.html ↩︎
  4. Comprehensive workshops on data management are offered by ETH Library in collaboration with Scientific IT Services. See Footnote 3 or contact researchdata@ethz.ch for additional offers. Courses and trainings on using Laboratory Information Management Systems and Electronic Lab Notebooks for research data management are available from Scientific IT Services. Please contact sis.helpdesk@ethz.ch ↩︎
  5. https://documentation.library.ethz.ch/display/DD/Contact+persons ↩︎
  6. https://library.ethz.ch/en/publishing-and-archiving/publishing-and-registering/publishing-research-data.html ↩︎
  7. https://doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000179298 ↩︎
  8. You can find further information on our wiki https://documentation.library.ethz.ch/display/DD/Table+of+Content,for example in our instructions and downloads section https://documentation.library.ethz.ch/display/DD/Instructions+and+downloads. ↩︎
  9. http://www.micro.biol.ethz.ch/research/oxenius.html ↩︎
  10. http://www.sysecol.ethz.ch/ ↩︎
  11. http://www.ias.ethz.ch/ ↩︎
  12. http://www.aecp.ethz.ch/ ↩︎
  13. http://www.iac.ethz.ch/group/atmospheric-physics.html ↩︎
  14. https://www.explora.ulapiluh.myhostpoint.ch/en/s/surfing-the-sea-of-data/?share=tips ↩︎

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