Metadata is data about data. Descriptive information, associated with your datasets, will help you and others make sense of your data and properly cite your work. If you plan on depositing in a data repository, consult the repository directly about their metadata requirements. Most data repositories have their own metadata standards.
Questions to Consider:
(Sources: UC Berkeley; UMass Amherst; University of Michigan, Alix Keener, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.)
Be consistent and descriptive in naming, formatting, and organizing files.
Be specific and obvious about what the files contain.
File names should allow you to identify precise research.
You might consider including some of the following information in your file names, but you can include any information that will allow you to distinguish your files from one another:
Project or experiment name or acronym
Date or date range of experiment
Type of data
Version number of file
Three-letter file extension for application-specific files
(Adapted from Stanford University Libraries)
Certain file formats are more stable and more likely to be accessible in the future. File formats recommended for preservation integrity have the following characteristics:
Open, documented standard
Common usage by research community
Standard representation (ASCII, Unicode)
Examples of preferred format choices:
PDF/A, not Word
ASCII, not Excel
MPEG-4, not Quicktime
TIFF or JPEG2000, not GIF or JPG
XML or RDF, not RDBMS
The metadata standards and data documentation you choose will vary by your discipline and research project. Most funders who require a data management plan as part of a proposal will offer guidance on the preferred methods of documenting. Additionally, the repository you chose to share data may have their own established standards.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.