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Data Management Best Practices: Home

These pages offer some of the recommended "best practices" for managing your data, but -of course- every project and study is different and some practices might not work best for you. Please ask us questions, attend workshops, or set up consultations to figure out how to do best by your data.

Best Practices in Data Management

The best practice is to have a plan. If these recommendations seem like too much, try to adopt one new good habit every month.

  • Writing a High Quality Data Management Plan
    Read your funder requirements carefully and address everything they ask you to. Then follow your plan.
     
  • File Management
    Have a consistent system and make sure everyone knows it. Don't use spaces or special characters in file names.
     
  • Creating and Using Spreadsheets or CSV Files
    Columns are for variables, rows are for records. Label your columns and use consistent terms between records. Don't use color or leave cells blank.  
     
  • Collaboration
    Have roles and responsibilities clearly defined up front. Make sure you save new versions of files when changes are made. 
     
  • Document Your Data Using Codebooks, ReadMe Files, and Data Dictionaries
    Give at least enough information that future you, a new lab member, or another researcher could make sense of your data. 
     
  • Security & Privacy
    Password protect and/or encrypt sensitive files. Follow Penn's guidelines for saving sensitive data on PennBox and visit SAS's pages on sensitive data and encryption.
     
  • Data Sharing
    Share! And share your documentation so the data is useful. Repositories are the most effective way to share. Find an appropriate repository here or ask us!

     
  • Storing and Backingup Data
    Follow the 3-2-1 Rule: 3 copies of your data stored on 2 different types of media with 1 copy in an offsite location. (0 of these copies should be on a flash drive) Want to know more? Watch one of these videos from Explaining Computers or University of Wisconsin Milwaukee's Data Librarian
     
  • Archiving data for the long haul
    Use sustainable file formats whenever possible and migrate your data to new media every 3-5 years.

 Workshops

Also search Research DataQ for answers


Resources

Funding Agency Public Access Plans (CENDI.gov)

Funding Agency Public Access Plans (SPARQ)


Links to School-specific guidance on data management


Additional Learning Opportunities


Scholarly Communication & Data Curation Librarian

Margaret Janz's picture
Margaret Janz
Contact:
Van Pelt 131
215-898-4836
Social:Twitter Page

In Development

More pages and information is being added to this page periodically.