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Library Research Guides

Metadata and Data Documentation

Introduction to tools, resources, standards, and support for metadata and data documentation.

Important Considerations When Documenting Your Research Data

Below are some things to keep in mind when documenting your research data to help others understand and potentially reuse the datasets.

  • Remember to document any coding schemes or variables used in the data.
  • Remember to document any conventions used for naming files in the datasets as well as how the files were organized in the research project.
  • Remember to document how the data was collected or generated, including any processes, software, or equipment used.

Basic Elements to Document About Your Data

  1. Title - The name of the research project or dataset.
  2. Creator - Names of individuals who created the dataset, including organizational affiliation.
  3. Dates - The date range during which the data was collected, processed, and/or modified, as well as the dates to which the data pertain.
  4. Methodology - The process by which the data was created or captured, including any code, software, equipment, or protocols used.
  5. Subjects or Keywords - Words of phrases which describe the type or content of the data, the location in which it was collected, as well as teh discipline or domain to which it pertains.
  6. Funders - The agencies or organizations which funded the research that produced the dataset.
  7. Rights Statement - Information regarding conditions governing access to or use of the data, as well as who holds the intellectual property rights for the data.
  8. Unique Identifiers - Any name, number, or alpha-numeric text string used to uniquely identify the project or dataset, including grant numbers or internal reference numbers.

Introductory Readings & Training