Data dictionaries are used to explain information about a dataset or database, such as the names of measured variables, their data types or formats, and text descriptions. A data dictionary provides a concise guide to understanding and using the data. Ideally, all LCA datasets should include or point to a data dictionary. It is preferred that these data dictionaries be machine readable.
If your data are managed in a standard relational database you will likely be able to generate a data dictionary through your software. This will provide a document that is consistently formatted and contains most of what is needed for others to understand your data. If your data are managed in spreadsheets, text files, or comma separated values, you will need to manually prepare a data dictionary. To support machine-readability, we recommend preparing your data dictionary as a spreadsheet. Click here to view a separate document that provides guidelines, examples, and a blank template for creating a data dictionary.