A data management horror story:
- The researcher didn’t store his data securely. He had it on a USB “in a box somewhere”… showing a lack of care. Instead he should have had backups of his files. e.g. an external hard drive – there are secure cloud storage solutions that are also appropriate and easy to access later.
- He stored the data in an incompatible file format. It could only be read in a particular program. In this case, the company who made the software went bankrupt so it was virtually obsolete. To avoid this problem convert data to the most generic file format possible so it can be read by different programs.
- The data itself was not clearly labelled, with abbreviations that could not be understood by an outsider. Even the researcher could not remember what some of the labels stood for. His research colleague was not easy to contact as he had gone back to China. The solution is to make sure reading the data does not rely on inside knowledge. Have clear, self-explanatory labels and provide context.