Data Documentation & Metadata

Why Document Data?

Ensuring that data be understood, interpreted and used, requires clear and detailed data documentation. Sharing data for long-lasting usability would be impossible with out documentation (also known as metadata) .

It is important to begin to document your data at the very beginning of your research project and continue throughout the project. By doing so will make data documentation easier and reduce the likelihood that you will forget aspects of your data later in the research project. Don’t wait until the end to start to document your research project and its data!

What to Document?

Research Project Documentation

  • Context of data collection
  • Data collection methods
  • Structure, organization of data files
  • Data sources used (see Citing Data)
  • Data validation, quality assurance
  • Transformations of data from the raw data through analysis
  • Information on confidentiality, access & use conditions

Dataset documentation

  • Variable names, and descriptions
  • Explanation of codes and classification schemes used
  • Algorithms used to transform data
  • File format and software (including version) used

Information from our latest Workshop Notes