Interactive, web-based data dictionary
Every data provider should offer a data dictionary for users. Typically, these dictionaries come in the form of a spreadsheet or a static Word or PDF document. While these formats are helpful, there is a better option available: an interactive web app.
An interactive web app with a point-and-click interface and search fields can easily created from a flat file (such as Excel or .csv), rendered as an interactive table (through libraries such as datatable https://datatables.net/) and deployed to users (such as in a Shiny application https://shiny.rstudio.com/articles/datatables.html). Web apps allow multiple users to quickly and easily find critical table and field information from a centralized source. This can save users a significant amount of time and frustration compared to manually searching through a static document. In addition, a web app can include links to additional documentation and analysis templates, providing users with more resources to work with the data. It can also provide a low-friction way for users to submit questions or feedback on the data dictionary back to the data provider via an embedded questionnaire.