Document your research data

Aims and objectives

This module is to help you conduct transparent and reproducible quantitative research for your project. Document what you have done to produce your results to make it possible to repeat it, in exactly the same way. The module is derived from the Tier Protocol by Project Tier Teaching Integrity in Empirical Research.

This module will:

  • explain how to document research data
  • explain data organisation
  • outline a workflow for your research project.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • organise your documentation folders
  • write a Readme file to show the changes you make to your data files
  • use a process to ensure research data replication and transparency.

1. Process

Document your data, and the processing and analysis, to allow others to reproduce and replicate your research. This should be an integral part of your entire project. You should begin constructing your replication documentation before you start working with your data, and add to it incrementally as your research progresses. Don't leave it until the end!

This section explains the steps required to produce the replication documentation, during the three major phases of your research. Then the next sections provide the detailed explanations of the replication documentation required.

By the time you have finished the data processing and analysis for your project, and are ready to write the final research project, only a few additions and checks should be required to produce comprehensive replication documentation.

Three major phases of your research


This is the preparation phase, before you start working with your data. You should create the relevant folders and blank documents which will be used extensively in the next two phases — Data work and Wrap up.

Data work

In this phase, you have already started your research and will be managing your research data. The Data work phase covers:

  • storing and documenting your original data
  • processing the data
  • analysing the data
  • reporting on your research and how it can be replicated.


If you have followed the steps in the previous two phases, you will have constructed your replication documentation incrementally throughout the course of your work on the project. In this phase, you have nearly completed your research and will just need to:

  1. Finish the final documentation
  2. Proof-read
  3. Make a final check of your replication document.

Saving your work

It is important to choose a safe place to save your work and to back up your work regularly:

  • Working with files covers options for data storage and backing up your work
  • Data at UQ has information on data policies and responsibilities at UQ

If you are conducting research as part of a Winter/Summer Research project, Honours or Masters degree or Higher Degree by Research (HDR):

  • See Manage research data to find out how to manage, store and secure your project’s data
  • Discuss with your supervisor or coordinator the suitability of using UQ Research Data Manager (UQRDM) to manage your research data. UQRDM will:
    • provide you with storage for your project's research data
    • allow you to share and collaborate with colleagues
    • enable you to plan and manage your project's research data.

It is important to use stable, well documented file formats. Convert your files into another format, if necessary, to make it possible to access the file, read the file or reuse the data in the long term.

Export your plan

As you work through the module you can record your own project plan in this document and download it. If you prefer, open the document in a new window.

The next sections provide an in-depth explanation of the relevant steps you need to do in each phase.

Duration:   Approximately 30 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

 Critical judgement

Check your knowledge

Check what you know about this topic:

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