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Best Practices

Best Practices in Data Management

Even if one is not required by your funding agency, developing a data management plan (DMP) at the beginning of a new project will inform good practice throughout the data cycle. The following practices are fundamental to effective data management and can be applied to all disciplines:

The Data Management Plan:

Data Storage:

To prevent data from being lost to incompatibility, store it as formats and on hardware that are open standard, not proprietary.

Type of Data Recommended Format Avoid These Formats
Plain Text .txt .docx, .doc, .rtf
Tabular Text .csv, .tsv .xlsx, .xls
Image .jp2, .tiff .jpg, .psd
Documents .pdf/a, .epub .azw
Archiving .zip .rar
Storage Cloud CD-Rom

Data Documentation:

  • Use metadata to record details about a study such as
    • its context
    • the dates of data collections
    • data collection methods, etc.
  • If possible, use an established metadata standard appropriate to your field.

Ethical Issues:

Sharing Data:

  • Archived data sets should include the metadata in a readme file that contains all pertinent details of the study.
  • When you are ready to deposit your data, do so in an archive that is public and appropriate for your discipline. Consult your subject bibliographer if you need assistance locating or preparing a submission to an archive.
Archive/Repository Examples
Subject/Discipline Example Archive/Repository
Ecology Dryad
DNA Sequences GenBank
Chemistry Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre
Social Sciences ICPSR

Additional Information on Best Practices