Describe Your Data
Make Your Data and Research More Impactful
Data management requires that collection and analysis methods be well documented, and that deliberate and organized file naming procedures be established.
It is crucial that researchers develop file naming procedures early in the research process to avoid problems later on. The following guides are helpful in developing file naming procedures and maintaining “version control”:
Looking to convert the names of your files? There are a few applications that can help:
- Bulk Rename Utility – Windows, Portable, free
- Ant Renamer – Windows, free
- Massive File Renamer – Windows, Linux, free
- Renamer 6 – Mac, paid
- PSRenamer – Linux, Mac, Windows, free
- den4b ReNamer – Linux, Mac, Windows, Portable, free/paid
This is information about a data set. Typically metadata is created to help potential users understand how the data was created and other important factors that cannot be determined by looking at the data itself. Various organizations have created metadata standards to guide data developers to provide key metadata and standardize how metadata is written within a given field of research. For example, if you are working with sequencing data, in many cases you will be required to submit data to the Sequence Read Archive.
To find a metadata schema for your discipline or data type, see these metadata directories:
A log is a document that records the actions taken to either collect data or analyze a dataset with specific software.
A codebook is a document that lists the codes and meanings assigned to each code used in a research project. The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has developed a comprehensive Guide to Codebooks.
A readme file is a file that describes the files present in a file collection, gives more information about a given file, or describes a piece of software or an analysis script. A good description of the elements of a readme file can be found on Cornell University’s Guide to Writing “readme”-style Metadata.