Data Management in a Nutshell
Following up on my presentation last year on Science Research Workshops: Beyond Bibliographic Instruction, this year I will present material I cover in my Data Management workshop. Although originally designed for professors, I have revamped the workshop to meet the needs of undergraduate (and graduate) students working on theses and other long-term research projects. I generally get a mixture of science and social science students attending with a handful of humanities students.
The main takeaway point for the workshop is that a little bit of planning will make the research process easier for you (and for those who come after you). The structure of the workshop is based on the Data Life Cycle: Creating Data, Processing Data, Analyzing Data, Preserving Data, Giving Access to Data, and Reusing Data which leads back to Creating Data. The life cycle is not purely cyclical as new data can be created after processing or analyzing data. The researcher is basically in charge of the first three steps, but what she decides to do during those steps can greatly help the archivist/librarian/lab manager who often is in charge of the last three steps.
Specific data management tasks for both active and archived data that I remind students to consider include: decide what data needs to be managed/archived, convert/digitize data when necessary to archival formats, choose an appropriate file hierarchy, establish a file name convention, maintain multiple backups with appropriate security, and create README files.