Research Data Management

Data Management for researchers at CQUniversity.

You will need to use metadata to describe and document your data

You may not have known what it was called, but you've already worked with different types of metadata. Your research data will need to be described and documented using metadata so that:

  • You can manage it during your research
  • The library can manage the archiving and preservation after your research is finished
  • Other researchers can find, use and cite your data in the future where it is available

 

Descriptive metadata describes what things are.

Examples of descriptive metadata:

  • Your file and folder names
  • The column and row headings in a spread sheet
  • The field names in your EndNote library records, e.g. author, year, title, abstract
  • Keywords and subject headings in a journal article record

 

Administrative metadata describes file formats, licences, copyright information, data preservation and other things related to managing your data. Your Data Management Plan is a document containing the administrative metadata for your research data.

Examples of administrative metadata

  • Your file formats
  • Software requirements for accessing your files
  • A Creative Commons licence
  • Your data back-up schedule

 

Structural metadata describes the relationships between the components of your data or documents. It determines how data is presented and facilitates navigation.

Examples of structural metadata

  • Table of contents
  • Index
  • Page numbers

Examples of metadata standards

Metadata standards make it possible for researchers to create uniform descriptions for their data. If all of the researchers in a single area describe their data in exactly same way and exactly the same order, it's easier for everyone to find, use and compare data.

Some standards include:

Biology

Ecology

  • EML (Ecological Mark-up Language)

Geospatial data

  • ANZLIC -The governments of Australia and New Zealand have formed ANZLIC to help set metadata standards for geospatial data across their jurisdictions including the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) record keeping standard
  • CSDGM (Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata)
  • ISO 19115:2003 (Geographic information metadata standard)

Arts

  • VRA Core (Visual Resources Association)

Social Sciences Data

  • DDI (Data Documentation Initiative, Social Science)

Humanities

  • The Text Encoding Initiative
  • The Visual Resource Association Core
  • Dublin Core
  • Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR)

General

File and folder naming conventions

It’s important to give concise, meaningful names to your files and folders so you can easily identify their content.

File names need to be brief, but still contain all the essential information. It’s a balancing act. Long file names can be problematic for the software you use to open them, because it reads the full file path including the file name, e.g. U:\ResearchTeam\ResearchDataManagement\FileNamingConventions.docx. File names that are short because they contain too little information, e.g. Download.pdf, cause issues for you because the name tells you little or nothing about the contents.

Be consistent in the way that you name files and folder. This makes it easier to name new ones and easier to find your files when you need them.

Here are 5 things to think about when you are naming your files.

 

Words and spaces

  • Use as few words as possible to keep the name short.
  • Use standard abbreviations or those that retain the meaning of the full word.
  • Use existing acronyms.
  • Capitalise each word to distinguish between them. When files are uploaded the spaces between the words in the name are replaced by %20 which makes the file names difficult to read.
  • If you must have a space between parts of a file name use an underscore. Use these sparingly because they make the file names longer.

Examples:

  • SupervisorContactDetails.docx
  • LitReviewSearches.docx
  • PICOS_COPD_O2Therapy.docx

 

Numbers and Dates

Numbers should be at least 2 digits so that files names can be sorted in correct numerical order. That means that the numbers 1 to 9 need to be written as 01 to 09.

Example:

  • Chapter01.pdf
  • Chapter02.pdf
  • Chapter03.pdf
  • Chapter04.pdf
  • Chapter05.pdf
  • Chapter06.pdf
  • Chapter07.pdf
  • Chapter08.pdf
  • Chapter09.pdf
  • Chapter10.pdf
  • Chapter11.pdf
  • Chapter12.pdf
  • Chapter13.pdf
  • Chapter14.pdf
  • Chapter15.pdf

Dates need to be written in Japanese date order, YYYYMMDD, so that files will be grouped first by year, then month, and then be sorted in order of day.

Examples:

If you have only one document for each date, begin with the same word and put the date at the end of the file name.

  • Meeting_20181109.docx
  • Meeting_20181214.docx
  • Meeting_20190111.docx
  • Meeting_20190208.docx
  • Meeting_20190308.docx

If you have multiple documents for each date, put the date first so you can group all of the documents for that date.

  • 20181109_EmbaseSearch.docx
  • 20181109_PubMedSearch.docx
  • 20181214_EmbaseSearch.docx
  • 20181214_PubMedSearch.docx
  • 20190111_EmbaseSearch.docx
  • 20190111_PubMedSearch.docx

 

Version information

Descriptions like Draft, Final, Version05 are best at the end of the file name. That way all versions of the same work will be listed together.

Examples:

  • LitReview_Draft.docx
  • LitReview_Feedback.docx
  • LitReview_Final.docx

 

Names of people

People: Like authors in references, it’s best to put surname first if you are including a personal name in the file name.

Example:

If you are combining notes for a systematic review, you might put the author names on the end of the file name to distinguish between the original files.

  • SysRevNotes_Brown.rft
  • SysRevNotes_Greene.rtf
  • SysRevNotes_Gray.rtf

 

Avoid repeating folder names in file names

The names you give your documents are only part of their idenity. You read the document name, but software that opens the files reads the whole file path including the document name. If this file path is too long, you may not be able to open it. To reduce the length of this file path, it’s best to avoid repeating the folder name as part of the file name.

Example:

If you have a meetings folder, you don’t need to name the files Meetings with my Supervisor, or Project Team Meetings plus the dates. Meetings is already there in the folder name.

  • U:\Research\Meetings\Project _20190211.docx
  • U:\Research\Meetings\Project _20190311.docx
  • U:\Research\Meetings\Project_20190114.docx
  • U:\Research\Meetings\Supervisor_20190111.docx
  • U:\Research\Meetings\Supervisor_20190208.docx
  • U:\Research\Meetings\Supervisor_20190308.docx

Suggested folder structure

You will create a lot of files during your research. Grouping your files in folders will help you to organise your work so you can easily locate the files you need. If you have too many top level folders it will create confusion. Below is a suggested folder structure:

Folder name

The kinds of information or files it would contain

Data collection and analysis

Raw data and data analysis files

People

(or, Partnerships, or People and Partnerships)

Information relating to supervisors, research partners, industry partners, casual project staff

Project management

Your Gantt chart, budget and anything related to purchasing, grants / grant applications and other administrative documentation

Publications

The conference papers, journal articles, grey literature, etc. which you have written or co-authored

Thesis chapters

The individual chapters and appendices of your thesis

Other (self-nominated) – 1

Name this folder to suit an information storage need that is not met by the other folders, e.g. you might use it for EndNote

Other (self-nominated) – 2

Name this folder to suit an information storage need that is not met by the other folders

 

Eample of suggested folder structure for your research project files