README guidance 

What is a README file, and how do I make mine as useful as possible?

A README file is intended to help ensure that your data can be correctly interpreted and reanalyzed by others.

There are two ways to include a README with your Dryad data submission:

  • Provide a separate README for each individual data file (view an example).
  • Submit one README for the data package as a whole (view an example).

We recommend that a README be a plain text file containing the following:

  • for each filename, a short description of what data it includes, optionally describing the relationship to the tables, figures, or sections within the accompanying publication
  • for tabular data: definitions of column headings and row labels; data codes (including missing data); and measurement units
  • any data processing steps, especially if not described in the publication, that may affect interpretation of results
  • a description of what associated datasets are stored elsewhere, if applicable
  • whom to contact with questions

If text formatting is important for your README, PDF format is also acceptable.

For comments/questions about README files in Dryad, contact

PDF files can be viewed using Adobe Reader (opens in a new window)

All text on this page is available under a CC-BY 3.0 license. CC-BY 3.0 icon (opens in a new window)

Last revised: 2014-08-27

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