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How not to collect data: organizing data for long-term use and re-use
Most scientists have experienced the disappointment of opening an old data file and not fully understanding the contents. During data collection, we frequently optimize ease and efficiency of data entry, producing files that are not well formatted or described for longer term uses, perhaps assuming in the moment that the details of our experiments and observations would be impossible to forget. We can make the best of our sometimes embarrassing data management errors by using them as ‘teachable moments’, opening our dusty file drawers to explore the most common errors, and some quick fixes to improve day-to-day approaches to data.