Managing your data may seem daunting at first, but there are really four components: planning, documenting, storing, and sharing. This best practices guide will help you build your own plan to manage your data.
If you start with a data management plan, when it comes time to tie up your research, everything will be easier.
Your plan should contain basic information about the project and about those involved.
Planning how you are going to name your files will help you find files easier, avoid duplication, and help you close-out projects quicker. When naming files remember to:
There are many ways to structure your files. Ultimately you just want to have a plan, and document it so that others will both know where to put files they are working on, and how to find your files when they need them. Some options are:
Or even a combination of the three. Just make sure whatever structure you choose, you stick with.
When it comes to documentation, think of how you would explain your procedures to
There are two components you want to document: your methods, and your metadata.
Your methods can be documented in a number of ways, including codebooks and data dictionaries. Be sure to document:
Documenting your metadata will help you sort and organize your work more efficiently.
Metadata schema (find out which one your discipline uses - there are many)
If none of the schema are appropriate to your research, create a standard yourself that contains similar information:
When storing your data follow these guidelines:
We have all heard the horror stories of research lost due to poor/no backup procedures. Remember:
When you start a research project, think of how you plan to share the results. Does your funding agency have requirements? What about the publisher where you will be reporting your findings - do they want you to include the data?
Sharing your data can:
The University is in the midst of building an institutional repository to support access and preservation of the research happening on campus. In the meantime, there are a number of tools available to help you share your work.