Metadata and documentation are different things: Documentation is meant to be read by humans; some metadata is designed more for machine processing than human readability. However metadata can be taken as a type of documentation. Create and generate metadata for your research data and datasets in your research lifecycle to preserve the data in the long run.
1. Consider what information is needed for the data to be read and interpreted in the future.
2. Understand your funder requirements for data documentation and metadata. Funder requirements for NSF, GBMF, IMLS, NEH, NIH and NOAA can be found at https://dmptool.org/guidance.
4. Describe data and datasets created in your research lifecycle, and use software programs and tools to assist in data documentation. Assign or capture administrative, descriptive, technical, structural and preservation metadata for the data. Some potential information to document:
5. Adopt a thesauri in your field or compile a data dictionary for your dataset.
6. Obtain persistent identifiers (e.g. doi) for datasets if possible to ensure data can be found in the future.
For your full data management plan, please refer to Digital Curation centre’s Checklist for a Data Management Plan.