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Data Management Guide

Data Best Practices: Overview

A little bit of organizational overhead can go a long way with your data management. Making your data "FAIR" (see below), formatting responsibly, applying metadata, and using a data dictionary are some of the ways that you can ensure your data will remain relevant and accessible.

Formats and Formatting

Because technology changes over time, it is best to store data in the simplest and most widely accepted formats. Ideally, the files should be:

  • not encrypted
  • not compressed
  • a format with an open, documented standard
  • a commonly used format
  • a standard encoding

As time passes, file formats will change and files should be migrated to newer formats as necessary.

FAIR Data Principles

What is FAIR DATA?

Source: Image by LIBER

Metadata Standards and README

Using established metadata standards will ensure that your data is properly represented in databases and search results, and that it will be interoperable with future data tools:

  • Dublin Core: a general purpose metadata standard for describing networked resources.
  • DDI: The Data Documentation Initiative is an effort to establish an international XML-based standard for the content, presentation, transport, and preservation of documentation (i.e., metadata) for datasets in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • MODS: Metadata Object Description Schema, a common library standard.METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) is a useful variation.
  • There are also discipline-specific standards, such as the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) and ABCD (Access to Biological Collection Data)

Data Lifecycle (USGS)

Note that the "Describe", "Manage Quality," and "Backup & Secure" steps are performed constantly throughout the entire project lifecycle.

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