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Help & guidance Guides to Good Practice

General considerations

Kieron Niven, Archaeology Data Service / Digital Antiquity, Guides to Good Practice

As stated previously, it is not the place of this guide to provide guidance on creation of either spreadsheets or databases beyond considerations that have a significant impact upon the preservation of a certain type of dataset. The following are general pointers on ensuring that data is both consistent and easily reusable and remains so throughout its preservation lifecycle.

  • Use controlled vocabularies and established word lists where possible for data entry in both spreadsheets and databases.
  • Adhere to consistent and meaningful table/sheet and field/column naming conventions and be aware that tables or sheets may not always remain packaged together within a single file. Also be aware that some applications restrict the use of the certain field names (e.g.ORACLE cannot have tables that start with a number or fields named ‘desc’ or ‘date’) or even the use of spaces within field or column names. While some applications allow these, such elements are best avoided as they can present a problem in future data migrations.
  • In spreadsheets, don’t use styles and formatting to convey meaning as this can be lost when the data is migrated or used within different applications.