Data-level, or object-level, documentation provides information at the level of variables in a database or individual objects such as interview transcripts or pictures. Data-level information can be embedded in data files, such as variable, value and code labels in an SPSS file or headers in a interview transcript.
Variable information log
Secondary data provide the research community with rich and unique material that can be reanalysed, reworked, used for new analyses, and compared or combined with more contemporary data.
For datasets being deposited that include secondary data resources, researchers are advised to prepare a variable information log describing these resources.
This log not only allows others to understand and use data correctly, but also ensures that repositories can check the appropriate terms and conditions of any onward sharing.
An example is where a primary data source used may have particular restrictions placed upon its use and any subsequent use. Data gathered from a website may seem like it is ‘open’, but it may come with limitations on processing, publishing and further dissemination.
The variable information log should include the variable name, its source, how it was collected, a brief description, and any restrictions noted on its further use.
Please see our sample variable information log template that sets out the information required to ensure that researchers are able to clearly understand secondary data.
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