What is metadata?
Data documentation is also commonly referred to as "metadata," or "data about data." It includes descriptive information about a particular data set, object, or resource, including (but not limited to) how it is formatted, and when and by whom it was collected.
Why is it important?
By adding metadata completely and carefully (at the very beginning of your research project, as well as throughout its lifecycle!), it will ensure that the data is accessible for any user, and it will be easier for other researchers to cite your information.
A wide range of metadata standards exists for researchers to choose from to document their project.
In the boxes below are some of the general guidelines related to what should be documented regardless of the discipline or project type.
This metadata should be stored with the project data at the very least in a readme.txt file. If the information is included in an article or presentation, then you can reference that item so that the information can be accessed there.
When recording this information, think about how you would search for similar projects, and be sure to include that information so that other researchers in the field can easily access the materials.