Documentation and describing

Data documentation

Documenting data is important for data preservation. Data documentation explains how data were created or digitised, what data content and structure are and any data manipulations that may have taken place.

Managing and sharing data. 2011. UK Data Archive.

High quality data are well organised, structured, named and versioned. Well-organised file names and folder structures make it easier to find and keep track of data files. Develop a system that works for your project and use it consistently.

Managing and sharing data. 2011. UK Data Archive.

File names can contain project acronyms, researchers’ initials, file type information, a version number, file status information and date. Think carefully how best to structure files in folders, in order to make it easy to locate and organise files and versions. Whenever data are used, sufficient contextual information is required to make sense of that data.

Managing and sharing data. 2011. UK Data Archive.
Data description and metadata

In the context of data management, metadata are a subset of standardised and structured data documentation that explains the origin, purpose, time reference, geographic location, creator, access conditions and terms of use of a data collection.

Metadata for research data can be structured according to international standards or schemes such as Data Documentation Initiative (DDI), Dublin Core, Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) or ISO 19115 for geographic information. Especially DDI has been recommend as a metadata standard for research data. Information about disciplinary metadata standards.

If you plan to deposit your data to a data repository, the repositories usually determine the metadata information needed and provide guidelines.

Read this web page about metadata for research data: Metadata. Research data management. UEF Library.

Think: How you will document and describe your data through out the research project?

Further information:

Data description and metadata. Finnish Social Science Data Archive.

(8/2019 AK)