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File formats play a critical role in the way you manage and preserve your data. It is important to think about it before collecting your data.

"The best format for collecting and processing the data, might not be the best for analyzing the data. The best format for analysis might not be the best format for distribution of the data, which in turn, might not be the best format for preservation of the data." (USGS).

In this Nudge, we focus on file format considerations for data distribution/sharing.

 
 
 
 

➀ Release data in open, non-proprietary, and machine-readable formats, if possible.

➁ Save files in both proprietary and open formats (e.g. data.xlsx and data.csv) to enhance usability, if applicable.

➂ Compress the data for ease of sharing and downloading large files. Check compressed (zipped) file formats in research.

➃ Retain the same file name for the same file in different formats (e.g. data.doc and data.txt).

➄ Include documentation of the data, transformations, and software guidelines to access the proprietary format.

➅ Consider sharing source code in addition to proprietary executables.

Check for errors or omissions if converting the file into a different format.

April 2021

 
   
 

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