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Data Storage, Access, and Preservation: Formatting Your Data

Formatting Your Data

The selection of file formats and the software required to use it for recording, storing and transmitting the data is often driven by the type of data collected and analyzed and the discipline. Within that context, researchers need to plan for both hardware and software obsolescence either from the beginning or converting later to standard formats and software that supports the interoperability of the data in the future. A recommended source is the UK Data Archive for guidance on file formats and software, including optimal data formats.   

Recommended formats for future accessibility: :

  •     Non-proprietary
  •     Open, documented standard
  •     Common usage by research community
  •     Standard representation (ASCII, Unicode)
  •     Unencrypted
  •     Uncompressed

Preferred format choices:

  •     PDF/A, not Word
  •     ASCII, not Excel
  •     MPEG-4, not Quicktime
  •     TIFF or JPEG2000, not GIF or JPG
  •     XML or RDF, not RDBMS


The following sites and materials were consulted in the development of this web page:
CalTech Library Research Data Management --Gail Clement

UK Data Archive