In a nutshell, before you begin a research project, you must first think about what data you will collect, and how you will organize it. Well structured data will make your life easier during the analysis phase, and make your data usable to scholars in the future.
Some grant-funding agencies require a written data management plan with your grant applications, but whether required or not, it is always a good idea to plan ahead!
The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) provides a great overview of data curation and data management in the social sciences. ICPSR provides details on how data fits into the overall research cycle, and information on writing a data management plan.
Need help writing your data management plan?
Tulane subscribes to the DMPTool, a step-by-step aid tailored to the application requirements of major grant-funding agencies that require a data management plan.
Need some place to store your digital data? Refer to the Source: Data Archives page (above) for a list of data repositories that both store and make accessible research data. ICPSR is probably the most well-known data repository for the social sciences.