Research Support

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We provide computer and media technology to support research activities at UW Tacoma. Not only do we help researchers to set up software and hardware required for activities such as statistical analysis, we also have professional media production facilities to create multimedia products related to the research activities. Further, researchers can either design their conference presentation materials using the photocopy stands and equipment in the multimedia lab, or contract Academic Technologies for the production of professional level works for their projects. We work with the following audiences:

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Information Technology, Academic Technologies and the Teaching and Learning Center work collaboratively to support students in their research. If you need support with planning, creating, administering and retrieving survey results from QualtricsWebQ or any other research survey software please send an email to Additionally, let us know if you need support in downloading and formatting your data for import into IBM SPSS Statistics (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) or other statistical software. We will try our best to get you in touch with the department that can best accommodate your needs.  Do note that Qualtrics does provide quantitative statistical analysis on collected data.  For more information, please visit the UW Tacoma Information Technology web page.

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We can provide IT support for grant projects and can produce video programs. We can participate in grant-writing by assisting faculty members to outline the overall technology requirements and detailed hardware and software specifications necessary for individual research projects.

We frequently engage in research and development activities assisting researchers to identify the most appropriate hardware and software solutions for the research activities.

Please contact us to discuss your research needs. We will try our best to accommodate your requirements.

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To help start the conversation between the research team and UW Tacoma IT, we offer below,  a series of answers to technology questions commonly asked by research teams. We hope these answers can help researchers start the process of identifying technology requirements and potential solutions early in their planning process.

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Research FAQ's

Where can I store my research data?

The best choice for data storage hinges on two factors. The quantity of the data and the security requirements. This data storage matrix details some of the cloud and UW network storage options commonly used. This matrix includes some details about which services offer what level of security safeguards for regulated data sets. Keep in mind that the data safeguards listed in the matrix only apply when using a UWNet ID authenticated account. Using consumer accounts that are not UWNet ID authenticated is discouraged.

If even greater storage or security is necessary then a custom storage solution through the UW Tacoma IT department is recommended. Meeting with the Web and Data Services of UW Tacoma IT, they will come up with the most workable solution to meet your needs.

Although not appropriate for research data, the UW Tacoma Digital Commons is a great solution for archiving and sharing published works resulting from your research project

Can I use a web based survey tool to collect data?

The University of Washington supports Qualtrics and WebQ. Both tools are highly configurable survey tools allowing researchers to create online surveys with a variety of question types. A number of participant credential requirements are available that range from open anonymous surveys to UWNetID login validated surveys. Once collected, the data is stored in a FERPA compliant manner.

With the ability to create powerful surveys comes the responsibility to correctly handle data that may be considered private or regulated. Think carefully about the rules that might affect the collected data. This document contains a section pertaining to HIPAA and FERPA regulations if these data regulation rulesets need an introduction.

In addition to the UW supported Qualtrics and WebQ survey tools, a number of non supported web survey tools exist. These tools are not as secure. Additional details are shared on the UW Tacoma Information Technology Cloud Services Policy page.

What are some best practices for future proofing my stored data?

Best practices when storing your data pays dividends in the future when the time comes to revisit your data. Although not as thorough as a data management plan the following  concepts are a good starting point for certain limited data sets. When planning your data storage solution be sure to consider:

  • File organization hierarchy
  • Documentation and metadata
  • Data storage, backups, and security
  • File formats

The UW Seattle Libraries webpage on Data Organization and Format is an excellent resource. This page includes some guidance and best practices advice for storage or research data. Of particular interest may be a guide to open (non proprietary) data file formats:

What is a Data Management Plan (DMP) and why is it important?

A data management plan is a document outlining how a researcher plans to manage data during and after a research project including how it will be organized, maintained, and shared. Some grant providers and funding agencies will require a data management plan be specified.

Despite this somewhat abstract overview the creation of a DMP can be straightforward utilizing an online tool called ‘DMPTool’. The UW is a partner in this project. The UW Seattle Libraries webpage on data management plans offers additional insights and a link to the online DMPTool.

My data is subject to HIPAA or FERPA regulations. How does this affect my project?

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) is designed to protect the privacy of students’ personal information. If your research dataset requires FERPA compliance then it is expected that reasonable measures are taken to maintain this level of privacy. Fortunately some of the common storage solutions offered by UW meet this requirement. Learn more about FERPA at UW Tacoma.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a set of rules pertaining to health care data. Title II of this ruleset requires measures be taken to guarantee the security and privacy of patient health data. Some research datasets are governed by the HIPAA ruleset which requires the University to implement specific security and privacy protocols. HIPAA rules are complicated so we’ve collected a set of high level requirements in a separate HIPAA overview document.

What does it mean to be a responsible Data Custodian?

The Principal Investigator (PI) usually performs the role of data custodian. A data custodian takes ownership of the policies that affect the research data set. Access control falls under this role as do a number of other responsibilities. The UW Data Management Committee offers a series of videos that give a good overview.

When a PI needs to share a restricted dataset within his or her team it is sometimes appropriate for the team member to acknowledge this additional responsibility. We have drafted a generic Researcher Acknowledgement form for this purpose. This form is intended to be a customizable starting point from which a use case specific document can be quickly created.

What should a Principal Investigator consider for ‘computing resources’ during the grant writing process?

Regardless of what type of research you are undertaking, you may stand to benefit from expanding your computing resources beyond a simple computer-per-researcher setup. Consider the following objectives and how additional lab resources or leveraging central resources, could streamline your effort:

  • High Performance Computing: Some research will require a higher level of computational power. Researchers should consider utilizing a central cluster, cloud resources or other unused cycles.
  • Storage: If a research dataset is large then identifying a proper storage solution requires additional planning. Other factors to consider are how/where to store the dataset if long term access is necessary.
  • Data Security: Some projects involve with data that is more sensitive than others or have particular compliance requirements regarding data handling.
  • Applications: What software applications does my project require?
  • Support: In some cases, computer support for your research project may be addressed by arrangements already made by your academic program. More frequently, you will have to provide your own support. UW Tacoma IT is prepared to partner with you to come up with technical support for the proposals.

More information about computing resources is available.

My National Science Foundation (NSF) grant requires Responsible Conduct of Research training for student researchers. Where can this be accessed?

National Science Foundation (NSF) supported researchers are required to complete a ‘Responsible Conduct of Research’ training. The goal of the RCR training is to familiarize the researcher with the ethical and professional issues that affect the integrity of a research project. This training requirement applies to student and postdoctoral researchers. Additional information and links to register for RCR training provided by the UW Seattle Office or Research.

Other resources

UW Tacoma - Office of Research

UW Seattle - Office of Research