Your project involves designing a research plan. Once you have decided on a topic, done background research, and come up with a hypothesis. You will need to pick a research method to test that hypothesis. Each type of research method might use a number of different research techniques which result in data outputs in multiple formats. Each of these data outputs and formats needs to be managed. Examples of each are below.
|Research Methods||Research Techniques||Data Outputs||Data Formats|
|Re-analysis/Meta-analysis||Using an NMR||Photographs||Physical Samples|
|Observational||Programming in Fortran||Blood Samples||Paper|
|Experimental||Running a Western blog||Computer Programs||Electronic files|
|Theoretical||Mapping in ArcGIS||Graphs of Spectra|
You will generate data during the creating, processing, and analyzing stages of your project.
You can organize your data by time, experiment, sample, instrument, user, etc. Just make sure that all your data is organized consistently. Don't organize half your data by sample and half by instrument.
|Flat folder structure||Hierarchical folder structure|
|Every folder is at the same level||Folders are nested inside each other|
|More descriptive file/folder names are needed||A README file is needed to describe which files are in which folders|
Folder and File Names Having a file naming convention organizes your data and makes it easier for you to find where information is stored and shows that you have thought through your research plan.
Backups are important to make sure that you do not lose your data while you are working on your project. They help you recover your data in case of technical failure, human error, or theft. You generally want to have three copies of your work on different media and/or in different places. Having backups is different from archiving your work; nor are back-ups considered preservation.
Security is more important if you are working with sensitive data. You might want to consider anonymizing your data, using password protection on your computer and files, or even using a computer that is not on a network.