README files for Data and Datasets

Download the README.txt template

A README file is a text file that contains information about other files in a directory. README files date back to the 1970s as a way to capture general information about a piece of software, program, utility, or a game.

For research data, README files are helpful at providing contextual information to help ensure that the data can be correctly interpreted by yourself at a later date, and by others.

At ScholarWorks@UMass, a README file is required before your data is approved for posting in the repository. The general README file we suggest you complete is available here: You can preview the file here:

If your discipline already requires more rigorous and detailed README files or metadata, please upload that file with the data you are depositing.


Example README files are available here:

If you have questions about completing a README file, or other questions about sharing your data, please contact the Data Working Group at