A README is often the first place people will go to learn more about anything in a folder - they are very common in software, and historically were included so the uppercase letters of README meant it would be at the top of a directory. The README is meant for someone to read and understand more about the data and contains the who, what, when, where, why, & how:

  • Who collected it
  • What is the data
  • When was it collected
  • Where was it collected
  • Why it was collected
  • How is was collected

With one README per dataset, It should be brief, and provide links to the other aforementioned sections. It should also contain any other guidance for the user on how to read and interpret the whole dataset.