Managing research data and the various files that contribute to your research efforts doesn’t happen just one time. Rather, file management it is an ongoing process that should be anticipated, planned for, and incorporated into your regular research efforts.
In general it can be helpful to think of research data management, and the resulting file management activities, as part of an overall research lifecycle.
At different points in the lifecycle you will need to complete different types of file management activities. It’s a good idea to record your decisions in a written format, such as a lab manual or ReadMe file. Some common tasks for each stage of the lifecycle include:
- Plan and Design: Figure out your naming and folder organizational structure, and communicate this system to others working on the project.
- Collect and Capture: Implement and refine your organizational system. As the number of files and folders grow, does your naming convention and folder structure still make sense? If not, update it, making certain to record and inform anyone contributing materials to your system. Also, make certain to gather any needed metadata (descriptive information) when collecting or generating your research data.
- Interpret and Analyze: Continue to utilize your organizational system as new files are generated from your analysis. Consider creating a code book or other documentation system to capture specific steps taken and to ensure the reproducibility of your research.
- Manage and Preserve: Begin to think about the long term storage and preservation of your data. Revisit your original data management plan to determine if it has adequately addressed these issues. Do you need to update or add to your file naming system, such as by adding dates? Do you need to convert your files into accessible formats? Have you created a ? Have you contacted the Library for help identifying an appropriate permanent repository for your data?
- Report and Publish: In addition to most federal funders, publishers are now requesting that researchers share the data supporting their publication. Check with your chosen journal to see what requirements they have. Also be certain to review the publishing agreement regarding any research data you submit to the publisher. If you need help reviewing the agreement and understanding your author rights, contact the ScholarWorks staff (208-426-2581 or email@example.com). Non-sensitive data can also be published in ScholarWorks.
- Discover and Reuse: Once your data has been fully curated, archived, and published, other researchers should be able to find and utilize your data set. Make certain a DOI has been issued for your work so that it can be cited by others and reported to any funders who sponsored your work.