Data best practices
The following are some of the components necessary for solid data management practices. Visit the linked pages for detailed information that will help you keep your data well-organized.
For more information on managing data, visit our FAQ or check out the article "Nine simple ways to make it easier to (re)use your data" by White, et al, from Ideas in Ecology and Evolution.
Interested in learning more about data best practices? Check out our workshop.
Use descriptive and informative file names.
Choose file formats that will ensure long-term access.
Track different versions of your documents.
Create metadata for every experiment or analysis you run.
Find helpful tools for analyzing your data.
Handle sensitive data in an appropriate manner.
Document your plan
Once you have started to implement best practices for yourself and your research group, make an effort to document these plans. Include your and your group's procedures for the following:
- Naming files
- Saving and backing up files
- Describing data files
- Tracking versions
You might consider using a wiki or a Google doc that everyone in your group can access when needed. Be sure to define who is responsible for each task and for setting the overall policies.
Plan for knowledge transfer
As a last step, don't forget to create and implement a plan for how to transfer knowledge about a project when it changes hands or when someone leaves the group. This will help prevent valuable information from getting lost!
Want to learn more about best practices? Try these great web sites: