The problem with dates: Applying ISO 8601 to research data management

Kristin Briney, Data Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, gives a brief commentary on the perils of managing research data with inconsistent or non-standardized date formats. Tapping into the stories of statisticians and ecologists, Briney notes that despite being a more western, Gregorian-based system, the international standard ISO 8601 provides benefits of consistency, formatting, extensibility, and sorting. And while ISO 8601 doesn't play nicely with Microsoft Excel, the author provides several ways around the problem. She concludes that "ISO 8601 is a natural partner for research data management" and encourages other researchers to adopt the standard.

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