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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2016

Book Reviews

Data Management for Researchers: Organize, Maintain and Share Your Data for Research Success

Kristen LaBonte
Life & Environmental Sciences Librarian
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California

Briney, Kristin. Data Management for Researchers: Organize, Maintain and Share Your Data for Research Success. Exeter, UK: Pelagic Publishing; 2015. 191 p. ISBN 978-1- 78427-012- 4. $41.99

While the title shows a focus for researchers, librarians can also obtain valuable skills from Data Management for Researchers: Organize, Maintain and Share Your Data for Research Success. Author Kristin Briney addresses the many issues in research data management for academics in an accessible format that’s easy to follow. The book might not be found on a reference shelf, but it’s a go-to source for all aspects of data management.

Briney, has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Information Studies and is the Data Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her background in chemistry research and work in the library field come together for this informative, useful guide that uses the data lifecycle as the model for the layout of the book.

The book is divided into 11 chapters; the data problem, the data lifecycle, planning for data management, documentation, organization, improving data analysis, managing sensitive data, storage and backups, long-term storage and preservation, sharing data, and data reuse, and restarting the data life cycle.

This practical book is designed to be read chapter by chapter as a researcher moves through the various parts of the research data cycle. Noteworthy sections discuss notebooks and notes, metadata, standards, file organization and naming conventions, anonymizing data, retention, intellectual property, collaboration, and citing data. Examples of notebook pages, README.txt files for data dictionaries, and clarification on the arrangement of files, metadata, organization systems, and documentation of those systems are included in the book. The chapter on improving data analysis gives details on data quality control, spreadsheet best practices, and managing your research code. The author also uses interesting and amusing case studies to illuminate the importance of data stewardship.

The author suggests that researchers practice data management skills over a period of time to master each one. Data management practices are important at every point of the data lifecycle and researchers can start where they are comfortable and move forward from there. One easy starting point is with physical or electronic notebook organization and oversight by supervisors.

Data Management for Researchers: Org: Organize, Maintain and Share Your Data for Research Success is recommended as a textbook for graduate-level research techniques courses. It’s an important resource for academic and special library shelves and a vital reference for anyone working with data.

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