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Research Data Management for Health Sciences

Data documentation, also known as metadata, helps you understand your data in detail, and also helps other researchers find, use, and properly cite your data.

Important things to do while you collect or create your data

  • Make a note of all file names and formats associated with the project, how the data is organized, how the data was generated (including any equipment or software used), and information about how the data has been altered or processed.
  • Include an explanation of codes, abbreviations, or variables used in the data or in the file naming structure.
  • Keep notes about where you got the data so that you and others can find it.

Things to document about your data

Great information for a README.txt file.

  • Title. Name of the dataset or research project that produced it
  • Creator. Names and addresses of the organization or people who created the data
  • Identifier. Number used to identify the data, even if it is just an internal project reference number
  • Dates. Key dates associated with the data, including project start and end date, data modification data release date, and time period covered by the data
  • Subject. Keywords or phrases describing the subject or content of the data
  • Funders. Organizations or agencies who funded the research
  • Rights. Any known intellectual property rights held for the data
  • Language. Language(s) of the intellectual content of the resource, when applicable
  • Location. Where the data relates to a physical location, record information about its spatial coverage
  • Methodology. How the data was generated, including equipment or software used, experimental protocol, other things you might include in a lab notebook