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Data Management & Retention Best Practices: Data Courses, Guides, and Tutorials

This guide provides Information for users on best practices for data retention and curation

Finding Data

To find data, first define your topic.  What are you interested in learning about?

Then ask, What information do I need in order to know more about the topic.  Be specific, but flexible.

1) Who or what do you want to study?

  • People
  • Communities and Organizations
  • Things

2) What time period are you interested in?

  • Today
  • The last decade
  • A historic period

Each time period will have different sources of the data.  Sometimes the more recent (but not current) data is the easiest to obtain.

3) What type of time period?

  • A single point in time, a snapshot
  • A period of time with data averaged together
  • A period of time with changing values

4) Where is the place of your interest?

  • Geographic location or area
    • Political boundary (cities, states, countries)
    • Census boundary (U.S. census blocks, metropolitan statistical areas)
    • Natural boundary (continents, planets, oceans)

As you begin to explore the data, you can develop and refine a research question.

This question should be something interesting that isn't directly answered by the data.  But, it needs to be able to be answered by looking at data.

Sometimes the data to support a question is not available.  Be prepared to modify your question to something that can be answered by the available data. 

Miami University Research Data Management Microcourse

A canvas-based set of modules for use as an add-on to data-oriented courses. Instructors can try out the modules by contacting Roger Justus (, Ginny Boehme (, or Kristen Adams (

We have some preview versions of the classes that you can use to see if they may be right for you or your class.  

Helpful Checklists, Guides, and Checklists

Data Visualization Guides

Digital Humanities and Scholarship

Digital Humanities and Scholarship are another powerful way to use data and technology to tell a story in a new and different way.  Here at Miami University, we have several excellent research guides to help you if you want more information on these areas.


The Infobase Learning Cloud (formerly known as Hoonuit) has tutorials for a number of data products.  Other sites with tutorials can be found below:

Miami University YouTube Tutorials