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Data Management   Tags: data management, data management plan, grants, nih, nsf  

Last Updated: Jul 16, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

File Types Print Page

File Types

When data are collected and analyzed during a research project, they could exist in a variety of file formats. During a project, the format used may be whatever is most convinient at the time. For long-term data access, data stored in proprietary, non-open formats run the risk that the format will no longer be supported in the future, and the data could become inaccessable due to format obsolscence. As a rule of thumb, widely-used nonproprietary formats are less at risk for format obsolescence than proprietary formats and formats that are not widely used. 

Best practice recommendations (e.g. at MIT and from UK Data Archive) suggest the following file formats for preservation.

Data Type Suggested Format for Long-Term Storage


plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rdf), pdf )preferably PDF/A (.pdf)

Quantitative, Tables

comma separated text (.csv), tab separated text (.tab)


TIFF, uncompressed (.tif, .tiff), PNG (.png)


MPEG (.mpeg), Free Lossless Audio Codec (.flac)



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