The Research Data Management Workbook

I am beyond thrilled to share with you my third book, The Research Data Management Workbook. This book is free and openly licensed (CC BY-NC), available both online and as a PDF or EPUB download. Here’s the citation:

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I’ve written extensively about practical data management. One of the challenging parts of data management education, however, is helping researchers bridge the gap between data management principles and implementing routine, customized data management strategies in their research practices. Part of this challenge has to do with the fact that data management, when done well, gets adapted to local context; for example, there is not one correct way to name a data file, rather there is a best way for you to name your data files.

The Research Data Management Workbook was designed to help researchers with implementing data management practices by providing them with structured, reproducible exercises for discrete data management tasks. For example, the Workbook exercise to improve notetaking centers on evaluating a previous laboratory notebook entry from 6-12 months ago. In the exercise, you: read through the old notebook entry; summarize what the entry was about; identify what information might be missing; evaluate if you could reproduce that entry’s research; highlight good and bad things about your notetaking; and then determining what improvements you should make to your notetaking going forward. It’s nice to know notetaking best practices to do the exercise, but the real focus is on key questions about your research practices and guiding you toward improvements that you specifically need to make.

The Research Data Management Workbook contains 15 exercises from across the data lifecycle, over half of which are completely new to the Workbook (most of the exercises from previously existing materials have been heavily edited and improved, though my favorite exercise on file naming conventions is in the Workbook and will look familiar). The majority of exercises are worksheets, designed for you to fill in answers to targeted questions, with a few checklist exercises and a pair of procedures.

The Workbook was published by Caltech Library and is free to download, use, and adapt, so long as you cite the original source and are not selling the material (the Workbook is under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International license). I anticipate updating the Workbook over time and adding new exercises, so I would love to hear feedback – good or bad – to make the next editions even better.

I hope that you enjoy The Research Data Management Workbook and find it useful!