Documenting and Describing Research Data


Compiling documentation which describes your data is vital to ensure that your data can be understood by other users who do not have any previous knowledge of the data. 

Details commonly captured about the data include: title, creator, identifier, dates, subject, funder, rights, language, location, methodology. 

Sometimes documentation is embedded within the research data itself, e.g. descriptive headers or code, field and label descriptions, on other occasions supporting documentation is required. Supporting documentation is separate files to accompany the data, e.g. lab books, interview guides, catalogue metadata. Supporting documentation should be structured wherever possible. 

(Based on information from the University of Cambridge)

Further Guidance

UK Data Service Documentation Guidance

University of Cambridge Guidance