Documentation describes your research project and data you have collected, generated, or analyzed. Documenting your data:
It is critical to begin documenting your data at the very beginning of your research project—even before data collection begins. Doing so makes data documentation easier and reduces the likelihood that you will forget aspects of your data later.
Below are some resources that provide guidelines for creating these documents. At minimum, store documentation in a readme.txt file or the equivalent, together with the data files.
Data documentation can include information such as:
Metadata is data about your data and also a form of documentation. When writing metadata, researchers can choose among various metadata standards—often tailored to a particular file format or discipline. For example the DCMI (Dublin Core Metadata Initiative) is a simple metadata standard used to describe a variety of formats (texts, images, bibliographic records, etc.).
Guide to Writing Metadata (USGS)
Metadata and describing data (Cornell RDMSG)
Selected metadata standards:
Social Sciences & Humanities