MANTRA is a free, online non-assessed course with guidelines to help you understand and reflect on how to manage the digital data you collect throughout your research. It has been crafted for the use of post-graduate students, early career researchers, and also information professionals. It is freely available on the web for anyone to explore on their own.

Through a series of interactive online units you will learn about terminology, key concepts, and best practice in research data management.

There are seven online units in this course and one set of offline (downloadable) data handling tutorials that will help you:

  1. Understand how data are used in research and in society
  2. Create a data management plan and apply it from the start to the finish of your research project
  3. Name, organise, and version your data files and code effectively
  4. Prepare your files and documentation for submission into a trustworthy repository or archive
  5. Know how to store and transport your data safely and securely
  6. Understand legal and ethical requirements for managing data about human subjects and how to safeguard sensitive data
  7. Know the benefits of sharing data and the FAIR principles; licensing data for re-use
  8. Improve your data handling skills in one of four software environments: R, SPSS, NVivo, or ArcGIS

Each unit takes up to one hour, plus time for further reading and carrying out the data handling exercises. In the units you will find explanations, descriptions, examples, exercises, and video clips in which academics, PhD students and others talk about the challenges of managing research data. The data handling tutorials (the orange button) assume some experience with each software environment and provide exercises in PDF along with open datasets to download and work through using your own installed software.

Please note - Learners who require a certificate of completion may wish to enrol for our 5-week rolling Coursera MOOC instead: Research Data Management and Sharing, delivered in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

MANTRA is maintained by Research Data Service staff in Information Services, University of Edinburgh. It was originally developed in collaboration with the Institute for Academic Development as part of a Jisc-funded Managing Research Data project (2010-11). The content was developed based on a needs assessment with three postgraduate training programmes at the University of Edinburgh in the fields of geosciences, social and political sciences and clinical psychology.

You are free to reuse part or all of this work. MANTRA modules and data handling exercises are available for download via Zenodo (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1035218). They were created using open source software Xerte Online Toolkits and can be imported and edited into Virtual Learning Environments such as Moodle. Video interviews with University of Edinburgh researchers and selected videos are available via the Data Library YouTube channel. Please see the Acknowledgements page for conditions of the open licence.

The current content represents the sixth release of MANTRA (January, 2022). News items about Mantra appear on the Edinburgh Research Data blog.

Glossy MANTRA leaflets (A5 size) are available for distribution; printed copies may be available on request to the Research Data Service.

The University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh
Creative Commons