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Research Data Management

Information on best practices and standards for data and code management.


The bottom of the RDM pyramid is storage. Even if your data management practices are pristine, if your data is at risk because there are no backups of it or the storage medium isn't reliable, then you will have trouble. Luckily, we have some resources at NYU and a few good rules of thumb to help you!

3-2-1 RULE

To keep data safe, it is recommended that folks follow the 3-2-1 Rule, which suggests you maintain three copies of your data on two different storage types, with 1 of those being offsite:

3-2-1 rule as described above with some clipart


Both Google Drive and Box have desktop applications (Google Filestream, Box Drive) where folks can mount and access files quickly. When downloaded and installed, the applications create a folder that appears just like a My Documents folder, only it’s connected to your account on whatever service (so it’s Google Drive or Box in your file explorer). Then it operates like a two-way door: changes will be synced to and from your local computer to the service in the cloud.

This helps us stick to the 3-2-1 rule pretty nicely as well:

  1. Sync data between local copies (on all my computers) and on the Google Drive server located elsewhere.
    1. So this is 2 copies on 2 different storage media, with 1 copy offsite
  2. Run the backup to an external hard drive over the Google Drive folder on my laptop whenever there are changes.
    1. This brings us to 3 copies on 2 media with 1 offsite copy!

This looks something like this in practice:

an image depicting the 3-2-1 rule using Google Drive filestream


NYU offers several resources for storing data:

  • NYU Drive for faculty, staff, and students (all-purpose file sharing via Google Apps for Education)

  • NYU Research Workspace for faculty, staff, and by request, students, designed for fast access to large datasets

  • NYU Box for faculty, staff, and by request, students, geared towards secure data needs

  • NYU Stream for faculty, staff, and students, specifically for audio, video, and image files with a focus on collaborative editing and linking with NYU Classes

  • NYU High Performance Computing Backups and Storage for those already using HPC for a project via the /archive data storage

NYU ITS has a helpful chart comparing NYU storage options.

We recommended that backups be saved in open or standard file formats, and not be compressed or encrypted (though sensitive data may require encryption). The UK Data Service also has a nice guide to data backups.  Do not use CDs or DVDs as these have been known to fail frequently.


NYU Box has been designed and deployed for sensitive and restricted data, including HIPAA-compliance, and should be used for any short-term file storage needs requiring such protection. However, researchers with schools, departments, or units that deploy their own secure data storage for sensitive or restricted data should use that service.

For information about NYU Box and restricted data, see the ITS NYU Box FAQs on sensitive data and managing permissions.

You may also wish to consult NYU's policy on transmitting and storing sensitive data and NYU's policy on data classification.


During the data cleaning and data analysis phases, it is often necessary to push and pull data from an external storage source efficiently so as to integrate that data into a workflow. The following tools can provide useful ways of doing this:

Google Sheets/Google Drive Integrations:




1. In your desktop Zotero, go to File > Export library

a screenshot of zotero's file menu with export library highlighted

2. Make sure both notes and files are clicked so you export everything! 

a screenshot of exporting zotero library as zotero RDF with notes and files checked

3. Pick which format you'd like to export. We recommend exporting as a CSV for your archival copy, and also as BibLaTex, particularly if you want to import your library into other programs. BibTeX files can be used with LaTeX software to create citations and bibliographies also. 

a screenshot of export options from zotero, which is a long list

1. Go to File > Export

2. Pick your export format. We recommend using BibLaTex as your archival copy. BibTeX files can be used with LaTeX software to create citations and bibliographies also, and most other bibliographic managers allow import of BibLaTex files.a screenshot of mendeley the bibliogrpahic manager, with its export options highlighted

1. Open the library of references you want to export.

2. In the toolbar at the top of the screen, click "Select Another Style" and select BibTex Export. BibTeX should be your archival copy. These files can also be used with LaTeX software to create citations and bibliographies.

a screenshot of the export option for endnote

3. Go to File > Export and save the file. 


1.  Go to References > Export or Tools > Export, depending on your version.

screenshot of refworks export file menu selection

2. Select All References or a specific folder of references you want to export.

3. Under "Export Formats" select BibTex and XML. XML will be your archival copy, and BibTex will be the secondary copy, one which you can import into other reference managers or use with LaTex software.

screenshot of refworks export options for format and list of citations to export

4. Click "Export to Text" and save.


Creative Commons License
Original work in this LibGuide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.