2. Organise & Document

2. Organise & Document

In this chapter, we provide you with tips and tricks on how to properly organise and document your data and metadata. We begin with discussing good practices in designing an appropriate data file structure, file naming and organising your data within suitable folder structures. You will find out how the way you organise your data facilitates orientation in the data file, contributes to understanding the information contained and helps to prevent errors and misinterpretations.

In addition, we will focus on how to set up an appropriate documentation of your data. Development of rich metadata is required by FAIR data principles and any other current standards promoting data sharing.

Main take-aways

After completing your travels through this chapter on organising and documenting your data you should:

  • Be aware of the elements which are important in setting up an appropriate structure for organising your data for intended research work and data sharing;
  • Have an overview of best practices in file naming and organising your data files in a well-structured and unambiguous folder structure;
  • Understand how comprehensive data documentation and metadata increases the chance your data are correctly understood and discovered;
  • Be aware of common metadata standards and their value;
  • Be able to answer the DMP questions which are listed at the end of this chapter and adapt your own DMP.

Authors and guides of this chapter

  • Jindrich_Tekengebied 1
  • Jindrich Krejčí | Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSDA)

    In preparation of the Expert tour guide, I have used my almost 20 years of experience in building CSDA data services as well as my experience in teaching data management and social survey methodology.

  • Johana_Tekengebied 1
  • Johana Chylikova | Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSDA)

    I am a quantitatively oriented social researcher and my main focus is the validity of survey data and measurement errors. While working on the content of this chapter I made use of my experience in analysing data and designing surveys and questionnaires.

The content of this chapter was inspired by research data management manuals, guidelines, online courses and methodological texts published by several data organisations and experts, in particular the information provided by the UK Data Service (2017a), the “Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving” by the US-based data organisation ICPSR (2012), the online course Research Data MANTRA (EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh, 2017), A guide into research data management by Corti, Van den Eynden, Bishop and Woollard (2014), Krejčí's "Introduction to the Management of Social Survey Data" (Krejčí, 2014), Gibbs (2007) and Data Management Guidelines produced and published by the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD-Finnish Social Science data Archive, 2017).