Research Data Management
Good practice in data management is required to maintain reliable and accurate data throughout the data's lifecycle. Good data management will also facilitate data re-use after completion of the project and enable others to replicate research outcomes into the future. Raising awareness of good practice for data management starts with planning.
Data Management Plans
A data management plan is a document outlining how research data and associated materials will be managed, stored, documented and secured throughout a research project as well as planning for what will happen to the data and materials after completion of the project. This includes retention and disposal, archiving, accessing, sharing or publishing the data, and any conditions or restrictions for sharing the data. The plan is intended to provide descriptive details of the data, the processes, decisions, as well as identifying roles and responsibilities.
The following templates are provided to assist with the development of a data management plan. The templates address the main broad issues for consideration during the planning stage, for example:
Data Management Plan – Template (version 1)
Version 1 of the template is based on a format of 56 short question and answers covering the broad areas of data management that are identified above. The author can determine the amount of information to include, however addressing all relevant issues will create a more robust data management plan.
Data Management Plan – Template (version 2)
Version 2 of the template is based on a format of 8 broad multi-dimensional questions requiring descriptive responses. The author can determine the level of detail for inclusion.
Data Management Checklist
The Data Management Checklist is based on the above Data Management Plans. The checklist provides an alternative method to using the formal templates and allows the author to develop their own data management plan by identifying the issues that need decisions and relevant information to be captured and documented.
Guides to Assist with Data Management and Planning
ICPSR. Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. Guide to Social Science Data Preservation and Archiving. Best Practice Throughout the Data Life Cycle, 2009
UK Data Archive. Data Management for Qualitative Data Using NVIVO9, 2011
File formats are an important consideration in managing research data.
To ensure usability of and access to your data over the course of time you need to determine that durable file formats are utilised. This encompasses the life cycle of a research project as well as for long term access that may be required, to meet a data retention period, after completion of a research project.
Not all file formats are durable over time or compatible with the need to share data with others. There is also a distinction between the types of file formats that are optimal for presentation versus those optimal for preservation and longer term access.
The National Library of the Netherlands suggests the following criteria when evaluating file formats for long term preservation:
Long Term Preservation
There are a number of resources available to assist you in determining an appropriate file format for your data. The following table, prepared by the UK Data Archive contains data formats identified by the Archive as optimal for long term preservation of data to the Archive. These can serve as a guide.
|Type of data||Acceptable formats for sharing, reuse and preservation||Other acceptable formats for data preservation|
Quantitative tabular data with extensive metadataa dataset with variable labels, code labels, and defined missing values, in addition to the matrix of data
SPSS portable format (.por)
delimited text and command ('setup') file (SPSS, Stata, SAS, etc.) containing metadata informationsome structured text or mark-up file containing metadata information, e.g. DDI XML file
|proprietary formats of statistical packages e.g. SPSS (.sav), Stata (.dta)
MS Access (.mdb/.accdb)
Quantitative tabular data with minimal metadataa matrix of data with or without column headings or variable names, but no other metadata or labelling
comma-separated values (CSV) file (.csv)
tab-delimited file (.tab)
including delimited text of given character set with SQL data definition statements where appropriate
delimited text of given character set - only characters not present in the data should be used as delimiters (.txt)widely-used formats, e.g. MS Excel (.xls/.xlsx), MS Access (.mdb/.accdb), dBase (.dbf) and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods)
Geospatial datavector and raster data
ESRI Shapefile (essential - .shp, .shx, .dbf, optional - .prj, .sbx, .sbn)
geo-referenced TIFF (.tif, .tfw)
CAD data (.dwg)
tabular GIS attribute data
ESRI Geodatabase format (.mdb)
MapInfo Interchange Format (.mif) for vector data
Keyhole Mark-up Language (KML) (.kml)
Adobe Illustrator (.ai), CAD data (.dxf or .svg)binary formats of GIS and CAD packages
eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) text according to an appropriate Document Type Definition (DTD) or schema (.xml)
Rich Text Format (.rtf)plain text data, ASCII (.txt)
Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) (.html)
widely-used proprietary formats, e.g. MS Word (.doc/.docx)
some proprietary/software-specific formats, e.g. NUD*IST, NVivo and ATLAS.ti
|Digital image data||TIFF version 6 uncompressed (.tif)||
JPEG (.jpeg, .jpg) but only if created in this format
TIFF (other versions) (.tif, .tiff)
Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF/A, PDF) (.pdf)
standard applicable RAW image format (.raw)Photoshop files (.psd)
|Digital audio data||Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) (.flac)||
MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (.mp3) but only if created in this format
Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) (.aif)Waveform Audio Format (WAV) (.wav)
|Digital video data||
MPEG-4 (.mp4)motion JPEG 2000 (.mj2)
|Documentation and scripts||Rich Text Format (.rtf)
PDF/A or PDF (.pdf)
OpenDocument Text (.odt)
plain text (.txt)
some widely-used proprietary formats, e.g. MS Word (.doc/.docx) or MS Excel (.xls/.xlsx)XML marked-up text (.xml) according to an appropriate DTD or schema, e.g. XHMTL 1.0
Source : UK Data Archive : http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/create-manage/format/formats-table
National Archives of Australia.
Xena software aids digital preservation by performing two important tasks:
Developed by the Digital Preservation Department of the UK National Archives, PRONOM provides authoritative information about data file formats and supporting software products including technical requirements and support lifecycles. Users can search by file format extension, name of software, vendor or keyword.
This website provides a browsable alphabetical list of desciptions of file formats, file format classes, bitstream structures and encodings along with inforamtion on compression of files or bitstreams.
Global Digital Format Registry. Available in January 2012
Developed as part of a broader program providing guidance on the creation of digital content and preservation for future generations.
From the Digital Scholarship website covering digital copyright, digital curation, digital repositories, open access, scholarly communication, and other digital information issues.
Additional Resource Guides for File formats
UK Data Archive. Managing and sharing Data (file formats p. 11.)
DDC. Digital Curation Manual. File Formats.
Selecting file formats for long term preservation. The National Archives. 2008
Library of Congress. Sustainability of File formats
National Library of Australia. Preserving Access to Digital Information
Cambridge University. (2011).Common Image Formats: what to use when.
JISC Digital Media (2011).Still images, moving images and sound advice.
File Formats – Working Level. ANDS Guide
PDF Files for long term preservation
A format for digital preservation of images. A study on JPEG2000 File robustness.
DLib Magazine. July/August 2008. Vol. 14, number 7/8.