Research data is being produced at a rapid rate in a wide variety of digital forms in academic and research institutions, however, this data is most prone to loss due to mismanagement. Proper management and preservation of this research data is essential for productivity, securing grant funding, enabling collaboration, increases data sharing, ensuring accessibility and the future use of data. Although academic libraries have recognised a need for effective management of research data, however, the management of their fast-growing number of research data poses major challenge to academic librarianship. The purpose of this study was to investigate the research data management practices and services within academic libraries in South Africa, in order to suggest solutions for effective research data management. Review of literature revealed that academic libraries are experiencing difficulties in managing their research data because of the absence of established policies and standards, inadequate standardised storage infrastructure, time constraint to organise data, limited funding, inadequate resources, lack of skills and training in managing research data and lack of incentives for researchers to share their data. All these challenges have created the dire need for best practices and solutions in ensuring proper management and long-term preservation of research data of enduring value in the academic libraries. Effective research data management strategies are thus needed to protect the enormous financial and time investments that have been made by mitigating data loss and avoiding the need for duplication of efforts to recreate lost data. The study suggests the need for implementation of research data management policies and strategies, provision of adequate resources, sufficient funding, collaborative approach and capacitating research data managers and administrators.