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Research Data Management: Quick Tips

5 Things to Do to Improve Your Research Data Management

Remember, the first person who will benefit from proper research data management is your future self! Here are some quick tips so that Future You has no problem accessing and understanding your research.

  1. Backup your files. Your data should be stored in at least 2, ideally 3 separate locations (here, near, and far). For example: here (local computer), near (external hard drive), and far (Simmons O drive).
  2. Create a naming convention for your files. Avoid spaces and special characters. Incorporate a standard date format, such as YYYYMMDD, in file names to keep track of the versions of your file. Record your conventions.
  3. Save your data in open data formats (examples: .csv, .txt, .pdf). Avoid proprietary data formats when you can. This will help ensure the preservation of your data. 
  4. Document decisions you make about your data and its presentation. What does that data field mean? What are the units? What about that acronym? Things that may appear obvious now will not be six months after you've finished your research project.
  5. Make a readme file for your data. Include all the above information, as well as file organization conventions, authorship, data sources, rights and restrictions, and funding sources.