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Biology Information Literacy: Part II: Skills & Techniques: Data Management

Laboratory Notebooks

See Laboratory Notebook Management in Part I for guides on keeping a lab notebook.

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Effective Data Practices

  1. Use a scripted statistics program such as R or SAS that provide a record of your analyses.
  2. Store files in a non-proprietary format and on a non-proprietary hardware.
  3. Store a copy of your original rough data as a read-only, making copies to use in analysis.
  4. Provide descriptive filenames and designate the first row of tables as a header.
  5. Organize records in rows, using column headings that will allow analysis within columns rather than across columns, example: SITE YEAR RAIN TEMP SPEC_NAME POP.
  6. Set up your tables so that you do not have to add columns when adding data.
  7. Use ASCII characters to minimize translation problems with software programs.
  8. Your data tables should only contain data, comments should be in a text file that accompanies the table.