Project Close Out Checklist for Research Data

Researchers tend to think about data management at key times during a project, such as when writing a data management plan for grant funding and when preparing for data collection. But there’s one other critical time for data management in the project lifecycle: when a project ends and/or a researcher leaves the project.

I’ve actually blogged about project close out twice before (here and here) because it’s an area where I’ve had my own successes and failures. I’ve lost data in projects where I didn’t do data close out and have saved myself several large headaches on projects where I did close out. But here’s the important thing: project close out isn’t actually that difficult, it’s just that there is hardly any guidance on how to do it.

Enter the “Project Close Out Checklist for Research Data“! Born out of a discussion with Jonathan Petters and Abigail Goben at the RDAP Summit in 2020, this checklist describes a range of activities for helping ensure that research data are properly managed at the end of a project. Activities include: making stewardship decisions, preparing files for archiving, sharing data, and setting aside important files in a “FINAL” folder.

Two versions of the checklist are available: a Caltech Library branded version and a generic editable version. I’m sharing the checklist under a CC BY license, so please reuse and remix with attribution.

My hope is that this checklist will help researchers be able to use their data well into the future!