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Research Data: Organizing and storing

Guide for managing research data

Name and organize files

File naming convention should be systematic and consistent.

Common elements for a file name are e.g. description of contents, version number and date of creation. Common date convention  (see ISO 8601 standard) is YYYY-MM-DD

General rules of thumbs:

  • keep the file name short enough
  • do not use special characters
  • use under score instead of full stop or empty spaces

Control versions

Keep a single master file of data.

Version naming system should be sensible so that audit trail can be tracked. Use ordinal numbers for major changes (v1, v2, v3). The version of a file can also be identified via date recorded in file name.

Record your changes!

File formats

To guarantee long-term data access convert data to open standard formats such as:

  • PDF
  • CSV
  • XML

Digital file formats used in FSD are listed here.

Storage

There are several options to store data during the research, for example:

  • disk space services at the Tampere University. More information at intranet
  • IDA, a national data storage service produced by CSC and funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture
  • EUDAT, infrastructure providing research data services and funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme

Backup

Have several copies of your data, for example in different medias and also off-site.

Make regular backups to prevent data loss!

Data security

  • Keep clear policies about who has access to data, how copies can be made and how data can be stored in different devices
  • Safeguard data with user names and passwords
  • Keep in mind the research ethics and legislation when working with sensitive data

Document your data

Metadata is a structured way to describe research data. It includes information about research project, collector and research procedures.

Dublin Core is an example of general metadata standard. Digital Curation Centre maintains a list of metadata standards by discipline.

General elements of metadata (according to FSD):

  • information about when, why, and by whom the data was created
  • instrument of data collection
  • file description
  • description of variables
  • availability
  • contextual information
  • paradata

Services at Tampere University

University IT services offer backupped disk space for staff, departments and projects in the staff domain. More information from: customerservice.cc[at]uta.fi

IDA contact person: Juha-Matti Heimonen, juha-matti.heimonen[at]uta.fi