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Data Services

A Guide of Library Data Services

Documentation Best Practices

Documentation is your way of explaining procedures, and your project to other people.  It must be clear to people both inside and outside your research group.  There should also be explanations of terms to explain the research for people outside the field.  Sharing data for long term usability would be impossible without documentation.

Two types of documentation:

Methods- information relative to how data was collected, how data should be interpreted, limitations on data use, information on confidentiality, access and use conditions

Metadata- Various levels of data which provide context to your project and data sets
Examples: Variable names and descriptions, explanation of codes, explain missing data points

File Naming & Structure Best Practices

File Naming
Following a file naming scheme will allow you to find files easier and faster and avoid duplication of files.  It will also make it easier for people not involved in the project to locate information.

File names should be:

  • Consistent
  • Descriptive (use documented & standardized descriptive information about project)
  • Brief (less than 25 characters is best)
  • Use underscores instead of spaces to separate words/dates
  • Stick to letters and numbers (no special characters)
  • Use the NISO standard for dates: YYYYMMDD
  • Include a version number

File Structure

File organization is key to finding the information quickly.  It should make sense for all team members.

Some options for file organization:

  • Separate folders for each project
  • Separate folders for each type of data
  • Separate folders for each day, if you are collecting a lot of raw data
  • All data in one location, with regular back ups
  • Stored on one type of media
  • Files should be in consistent formats when possible

Recommended File Formats

File Type File Formats
Text XML, PDF/A, HTML, ASCII, UTF-8
Still Image TIFF, JPEG 2000, PNG, JPEG/JFIF, BMP, GIF
Highest resolution available
Geospatial Shapefile (SHP, DBF), GeoTIFFNetCDF
Audio WAVE, AIFF, MP3, MXF
Highest resolution available
Video MOV, MPEG-4, AVI, MXF
Highest resolution available
Database XML, CSV
Tabular Data CSV
Web Archive WARC

File Managing Tools