2. Organise & Document

2. Organise & Document

In this chapter, we provide you with tips and tricks on how to properly organise and document your data and metadata. We begin by discussing good practices in designing an appropriate data file structure, file naming and organising your data within suitable folder structures. You will see how the way you organise your data facilitates orientation in the data file, contributes to the understanding of the information contained and helps to prevent errors and misinterpretations.

In addition, we will focus on what counts as an appropriate documentation of your data. Development of rich metadata is required by FAIR data principles and other current standards promoting data sharing.

If you wish to print out this chapter, you can download it here.

Main take-aways

After completing your journey through this chapter on organising and documenting your data you should:

  • Be aware of the elements which are important in setting up an appropriate structure for organising your data for intended research work and data sharing;
  • Have an overview of the best practices in file naming and organising your data files in a well-structured and unambiguous folder structure;
  • Understand how comprehensive data documentation and metadata increases the chance your data are correctly understood and discovered;
  • Be aware of common metadata standards and their value;
  • Be able to answer the DMP questions that are listed at the end of this chapter and adapt your own DMP.

The content of this chapter was inspired by research data management manuals, guidelines, online courses and methodological texts published by several data organisations and experts, in particular the information provided by the UK Data Service (2017a), the “Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving” by the US-based data organisation ICPSR (2012), the online course Research Data MANTRA (Research Data Service, University of Edinburgh, 2022), A guide into research data management by Corti, Van den Eynden, Bishop and Woollard (2014), Krejčí's "Introduction to the Management of Social Survey Data" (Krejčí, 2014), Gibbs (2007) and Data Management Guidelines produced and published by the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD-Finnish Social Science data Archive, 2017).

Main authors of this chapter

Jindrich Krejčí, Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSDA)
Johana Chylikova, Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSDA)
Katja Fält, Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD)