Documentation in the form of a README file is required for all datasets deposited with the repository. Suggested components for a README are provided below; however, you may modify these fields to best fit your needs. Consider what types of information you would need in order to use someone else's data when creating your documentation.

A downloadable, editable template (clicking this link will start the download) is available for your convenience.

Information for README file


  • Contact – name and email (or address, phone number) of contact person
  • Method(s) –Describe the methods for collecting, creating, or compiling the submitted data, as well as the methods for processing data, if data other than raw data are being contributed
  • Location where data were collected – Please be as specific as possible about the geographic coverage of your data
  • Time period during which data were collected
  • Environmental or experimental conditions – if applicable (e.g., cloud cover, atmospheric influences, computational environment, etc.)
  • Standards or calibrations that were used
  • Uncertainty, precision, and accuracy of measurements
  • Quality assurance and quality control that have been applied
  • Description of parameters/variables – description of the parameters/variables (column headings in the data files) and units of measure for each parameter/variable, including special codes, variable classes, GIS coverage attributes, etc. used in the data files themselves, including codes for missing data values
  • Definitions of acronyms, site abbreviations, or other project-specific designations used in the data file names or documentation files
  • File Information - File names, file formats, directory structure, and brief description of each file or file type, including where in the research process each data file lies (e.g. raw/unanalyzed data, processed/analyzed data, rendered/visualized data). Also indicate the number of data files, including the README file.
  • Software – List any software (including version number) used to produce, prepare, render, compress, analyze and/or needed to read the dataset, if applicable
  • Data source - resources, such as books, articles, serials, and/or data files, if any, that served as source of this data collection if applicable
  • Related materials - relationships with any ancillary datasets or publications, if applicable; file names of other documentation being submitted along with the data and that would be helpful to a secondary data user, such as pertinent field notes or other companion files, publications, etc.
  • Limitations to reuse - Known problems or caveats that would limit reuse of the data or other caveats (e.g., uncertainty, sampling problems, blanks, QC samples) that future users should know
  • Date dataset was last modified
  • Any other important information about your data