Data documentation

Well-prepared and thought of data documentation enables future users to understand the data and conduct informed analyses of it. The documentation explains the context of the original study, how the data were collected or created, its content and structure, among other things. Some of this information may already be available, for example in scientific articles or other publications. However, it is very important that this information is accessible together with the data, as this will boost the reusability of the data, and increase the likelihood of being cited.   


The following documentation is mandatory when publishing data with DATICE


1. Method report

The method report covers the research objectives and design, sampling procedures, and methods used to collect and process the data. As a way of example, method reports typically include information on:

  • Background of the study 
  • Sample type (sampling)
  • Data collection methods
  • Instruments and softwares used
  • Data collection period 
  • User licenses


2. Codebook

A codebook can be prepared in many ways, its scope depends on the nature of the data and the original study. As a bare minimum, codebooks include information on the following:

  • Names, labels, values, and descriptions for each variable
  • Explanation of variables that have been coded in a special way  
  • Definitions of specialist terminology or acronyms used 
  • Coding of missing values 


3. Questionnaires, interviews and other study instruments

Instruments of data collection (e.g., questionnaires, interviews, data collection guidelines) should accompany the data, provided that there is no infringement of copyright. Otherwise, written permission of the author(s) is needed. Specialized or standardized assessment instruments (e.g., depression scales, cognitive tests, standardized reading tests) should under no circumstances be published in an open access repository. No matter the reason for not publishing an instrument in open access, please make sure to include a description of the instrument, and some documentation if possible, so that users may better understand its content and quality.


Please check the consistency of information in the data and its documentation files, for example, make sure that all variable names and labels are the same, or else, provide an overview of discrepancies in files.   


Other materials that may accompany the data  

Various other materials may accompany the data into open access provided that: 1) There is no infringement of copyright, 2) the material is directly related to the data, and 3) the material is considered useful for potential users. Examples of such documents are: 

  • Project and research reports
  • Data Management Plan (DMP)  
  • Research proposal/plan 
  • Consent and information sheets for participants  
  • Interview cards
  • Information on research incentives
  • Syntaxes/scripts/command files