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Data Management Resources

Data Management Glossaries

Confused what certain words mean in the context of data management? Check out the data management glossaries below to enhance your understanding. 

Data Lifecycle Template

Data Lifecycle Template Screenshot

Trying to start your research data management journey? Check out our Data Lifecycle Template! Follow the research data lifecycle steps and fill out the data management tasks that you would need to do at that steps. You can also fill out the hurdles and concerns you imagine you will have associated with a research phase. This allows you to think through how you will conduct data management throughout your research project and consider any hurdles you may come across before they become problems. There is also an example data lifecycle template that has been filled out that you can reference if you want inspiration or a place to start. 

Top Links and Guides

Best Practices in Data Management

The tabs to the left will walk you through the foundational aspects necessary for adopting data management practices, but below are some quick tips. The best practice when starting to practice data management is to have a plan of action and create a habit. 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 Organization
    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 ReadMe FilesCodebooks 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 Backing up 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. Zero 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.
  • Archiving Data for Preservation
    Use sustainable file formats whenever possible and migrate your data to new media every 3-5 years.

Data Management 101 Workshop

This workshop recording will teach the foundational principles of good research data management. If you struggle with file naming, understanding your files after time has passed, or planning your research process, give it a listen! 

Learners will be able to diagram a data lifecycle of their research process, learn how to develop a file naming process, and learn how to construct documentation for their research. This session is suited for graduate students and faculty conducting research, though advanced undergraduates will also find it helpful. Lesson materials are publicly available for download and viewing. 


Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License 

This guide, the included recordings, and the included materials that are produced by Lauren Phegley of the University of Pennsylvania are licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Research Data Engineer

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Lauren Phegley

Lauren Phegley holds consultations on data management, DMPTool, writing Data Management Plans (DMPs), and data sharing.


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Lynda Kellam

Director of Research Data & Digital Scholarship

See schedule button for current dates and times. Appointments available in person and on zoom.

Subjects: Data & GIS
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