For all the CHES data we work with, please accompany a metadata--if it is an Excel file, create a spreadsheet in the same data file; if it is a folder that includes multiple data files, prepare a Readme.txt file. Provide the following information in your meta-data file: Name of the person(s) who collected the data, who created the file, and/or who compiled/checked data, contact information of this person(s), time of the data coverage and data collection, the purpose of this dataset, the data source(s) (list the original file name and in what folder or online source), the meaning and unit of each variable, geographic coverage (e.g., the whole Ghana or the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in China), sampling strategy (random sampling, stratified sampling, etc.) or census, and notes (the things you want to highlight). Below please find several meta-data examples.
Metadata for Environmental Datasets pdf xlsx
Metadata for Human Survey Datasets pdf xlsx
Metadata for Imagery or GIS Datasets pdf xlsx
The components in a certain meta-data may vary with projects or topics. As we embark on new CHES research projects, we will keep updating the correpsonding elements. But the generic idea remains unchanged: make the data understandable, clear, and useful to people who do not know the data.
Data stream documentation
Data stream means a series of datasets that are connected as input (upstream) and output (downstream) files. For instance, from Dataset (File) A, Dataset B1 is created; from B1 (maybe in conjunction with File B2), File C is created ... Then in the documentation process, we write down all the steps showing this stream of data creation and/or processing, including all files (here A, B1, B2, C...) as well as software or code (if different from the supporting software of the input file) that is used in each step. Below are exemplar data stream documents for the Ghana project, which is created by Evan Casey with instructions from Dr. An:
Note that all the files (including intermediate files) mentioned in the meta-data file (i.e., ABM_Data_Procedures.pdf) are saved and listed at the same folder in which the meta-data file is saved. This kind of documentation is useful for other people to follow, check, and verify the data creation processes, but not always required. It is often adopted when various data merging, compiling, selection, and processing steps are needed to create an ultimate file.