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Documenting data and derived datasets

Accurate documentation is crucial for understanding and interpreting your data, both during the research process and for future use or sharing with others. Clear documentation ensures transparency, reproducibility and helps others to understand and evaluate your findings.

Documentation that accompanies a certain dataset or study contains the metadata, or data about the data.

There are different levels and types of data documentation to be aware of when using or creating documentation.

Data documentation levels

Documentation standards

If you are creating documentation for any data, it is particularly important to familiarise yourself with metadata standards which provide guidelines for describing and documenting research data.

Following these standards ensures consistency and compatibility with other datasets, which enables future data integration and comparison. 

Some commonly used data standards include, and are not limited to: 

More learning and teaching resources and courses on data management are available in the Training opportunities section.