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Research Data Management: Describe Data

Managing, preserving, and sharing research data.

Describe Data

Clear description and documentation of data is important for effective project management as well as retrieval, sharing, and research reproducibility.  Descriptive information, typically referred to as metadata, provides the details that describe, contextualize, define, and  clarify the data itself and the systems and methodologies used in processing and analyzing it.

Metadata is important because it

  • Promotes consistency in collecting, recording, and analyzing data
  • Describes privacy and access issues related to the data
  • Makes data easier to discover, use, understand, and share
  • Facilitates reproducibility of research
  • Ensures long-term preservation

As a researcher this makes data easier to find and reuse, by both you and others, and clarifies how data is structured, defined, collected, and interpreted.

Metadata standards have been developed for many disciplines to support compatibility and uniformity of data documentation by providing element definitions and usage guidance.