File Management

Effective file management of your data can play a key role in the success of your project. Organizing your files with a consistent system and file naming structure can make your data easier to understand, share, and preserve. A good 'rule of thumb' is to be consistent and descriptive in naming and organizing files. 

Folder hierarchy

Use a folder hierarchy that matches the study or project. Example:

[ Study Name ]
--- [ Surveys ]
--------- [ Survey Instrument 1 ] [ Survey Instrument 2 ]
--- [ Data ]
--------- [ Raw Data ] [ Processed Data ]
--- [ Analysis ]
--- [ Poster ]
--- [ Paper ]

File naming conventions

Key components of a useful file name may include information such as: 

  • Date - use format: YYYYMMDD (ISO 8601)
  • Study/project name (or acronym)
  • Location information (if a multi-site project)
  • Initials of researcher
  • Version number

Best practices

  • Avoid special characters and spaces
  • Use capitals and underscores, or compound words “CamelCase”
  • Use no more than 32 characters, preferably much less
  • Use meaningful names
  • Include versioning information

Example of file naming 

H20Study_20100725_TrialData_FF_v2.csv

  • H20Study = Project name
  • 20100725 = Date of data collection
  • TrialData = Content of the file
  • FF = Researcher's initials
  • v2 = Version information

More information: