Documenting Your Data
Kristin Briney, PhD
Data Services Librarian
victoriabernal, https://www.flickr.com/photos/victoriabernal/6294851265 (CC BY-NC-SA)
justgrimes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/notbrucelee/8016192302 (CC BY-SA)
DOCUMENTATION
Brady, https://www.flickr.com/photos/freddyfromutah/4424199420 (CC BY)
Documentation
• Why?
– Data without notes are unusable
– Because you won’t remember everything
– For others who may need t...
Documentation
• When?
– Always
– Documentation needs will vary between files
What would someone unfamiliar
with your data need in order to find,
evaluate, understand, and reuse
them?
Documentation
• How?
– Take good notes
• Concise and legible
• Record more, not less
• Understandable to someone “skilled ...
Documentation
• How?
– Methods
• Protocols
• Code
• Survey
• Codebook
• Data dictionary
• Anything that lets someone repro...
Documentation
• How?
– Templates
• Add structure to notes
• Decide on a list of information before you collect data
– Make...
Example
• I need to collect:
– Date
– Experiment
– Scan number
– Powers
– Wavelengths
– Concentration (or sample weight)
–...
Documentation
• How?
– README.txt
• For digital information, address the questions
– “What the heck am I looking at?”
– “W...
Example
• Project-wide README.txt
– Basic project information
• Title
• Contributors
• Grant info
• etc.
– Contact informa...
Example
“Talk_v1: rough outline of talk
Talk_v2: draft of talk
Talk_v3: updated 2014-01-15 after feedback”
“ ‘Data’ folder...
Documentation
• How?
– Metadata schemas
• http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/metadata-standards
– Highly structured documentat...
Example
• Contributor
– Jane Collaborator
• Creator
– Kristin Briney
• Date
– 2013 Apr 15
• Description
– A microscopy ima...
WHAT TO DO FROM HERE
Chris Hoving, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pcrucifer/2433274595 (CC BY-ND)
Data Services
• uwm.edu/libraries/dataservices
• Data Services Librarian
– Kristin Briney
Thank You!
• This presentation available under a Creative
Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license
Documenting Your Research Data
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Documenting Your Research Data

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This presentation covers several reasons why to improve your data management and offers several strategies for documentation.

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Documenting Your Research Data

  1. 1. Documenting Your Data Kristin Briney, PhD Data Services Librarian
  2. 2. victoriabernal, https://www.flickr.com/photos/victoriabernal/6294851265 (CC BY-NC-SA)
  3. 3. justgrimes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/notbrucelee/8016192302 (CC BY-SA)
  4. 4. DOCUMENTATION Brady, https://www.flickr.com/photos/freddyfromutah/4424199420 (CC BY)
  5. 5. Documentation • Why? – Data without notes are unusable – Because you won’t remember everything – For others who may need to use your files
  6. 6. Documentation • When? – Always – Documentation needs will vary between files
  7. 7. What would someone unfamiliar with your data need in order to find, evaluate, understand, and reuse them?
  8. 8. Documentation • How? – Take good notes • Concise and legible • Record more, not less • Understandable to someone “skilled in the art”
  9. 9. Documentation • How? – Methods • Protocols • Code • Survey • Codebook • Data dictionary • Anything that lets someone reproduce your results
  10. 10. Documentation • How? – Templates • Add structure to notes • Decide on a list of information before you collect data – Make sure you record all necessary details – Takes a few minutes upfront, easy to use later • Print and post in prominent place or use as worksheet
  11. 11. Example • I need to collect: – Date – Experiment – Scan number – Powers – Wavelengths – Concentration (or sample weight) – Calibration factors, like timing and beam size
  12. 12. Documentation • How? – README.txt • For digital information, address the questions – “What the heck am I looking at?” – “Where do I find X?” • Use for project description in main folder • Use to document conventions • Use where ever you need extra clarity
  13. 13. Example • Project-wide README.txt – Basic project information • Title • Contributors • Grant info • etc. – Contact information for at least one person – All locations where data live, including backups
  14. 14. Example “Talk_v1: rough outline of talk Talk_v2: draft of talk Talk_v3: updated 2014-01-15 after feedback” “ ‘Data’ folder contains all raw data files by date ‘Analysis’ has analyzed data and plots ‘Paper’ has drafts of article on this work”
  15. 15. Documentation • How? – Metadata schemas • http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/metadata-standards – Highly structured documentation • If you have a lot of documentation to search and mine • If you need to share your data
  16. 16. Example • Contributor – Jane Collaborator • Creator – Kristin Briney • Date – 2013 Apr 15 • Description – A microscopy image of cancerous breast tissues under 20x zoom. This image is my control, so it has only the standard staining describe on 2013 Feb 2 in my notebook. • Format – JPEG • Identifier – IMG00057.jpg • Relation – Same sample as images IMG00056.jpg and IMG00055.jpg • Subject – Breast cancer • Title – Cancerous breast tissue control
  17. 17. WHAT TO DO FROM HERE
  18. 18. Chris Hoving, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pcrucifer/2433274595 (CC BY-ND)
  19. 19. Data Services • uwm.edu/libraries/dataservices • Data Services Librarian – Kristin Briney
  20. 20. Thank You! • This presentation available under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license

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