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Research Data Management

Documentation & metadata

Why document data?  Metadata is useful for:

  • Finding data from other researchers to support your research
  • Using the data that you find
  • Helping others both find & use data from your research
  • Understanding and using your own data in the future

Questions your documentation or metadata should answer

  • Who collected the data?
  • Who or what were the subjects under study?
  • What data were collected, for what purpose?
  • What is the content & structure of the data?
  • Where was the data collected?
  • What were the experimental conditions that produced it?
  • When was the data collected?
  • Are the data part of a series, or ongoing experiment?
  • Why was this experiment performed?
  • How do the data relate to your research question?

Best practices

  • Keep a data dictionary or codebook
  • Always use an established metadata standard
  • Extract pre-existing metadata
  • Consistent data entry is important
  • Use templates and macros when possible
  • Avoid extraneous punctuation
  • Avoid most abbreviations
  • Consult with a librarian