The information on this page will help you organize your datasets for your own use. You may want to consider using more sophisticated name schema if you are collaborating or want to share your data. Researchers working together should agree on some basic rules for naming folders and files.
File Naming Conventions
The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (pdf) provides a helpful list of file naming best practices:
File Naming Conventions for Specific Disciplines
Many disciplines have recommendations, for example:
If you already have lots of files named, you can use free tools to help you:
When organizing files, avoid complex folder structures - create a logical and manageable structure for your folders and subfolders.
Determine the level of granularity of your folders - to avoid the over use of folders, consider using information-rich file names.
Think about how people will need to search for files and how often new folders will need to be created - this can influence folder direction.
Clearly document the folder hierarchy rules and naming convention - file naming best practices also apply to folder naming.
The goal of data entry is to create valid datasets that are organized to support ease of use. Some best practices for spreadsheets and data files inlcude:
(DataONE Education Module: Data Entry and Manipulation. https://www.dataone.org/education-modules)
Version control helps with collaborative editing, coordinating teams, and maintaining a history of progress.
Keeping track of changes to documents, code, and datasets is critical. Strategies include:
Record every change to a file no matter how small. Discard obsolete versions after making backups.
For more guidance on organizing data, check out these guides: