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Data management for students: Versioning

English translation of Datamanagement voor studenten

How to organize your files and folders?

A clear folder structure is very important; it will enable you to retrieve all of your files and documents in a quick and efficient way.

  • It is important to consider beforehand what folders will be needed to store and arrange your files. This will differ from one research and one person to another. Consider the creation of folders such as Administration, Interviews, Literature and Chapters. These will be the folders in which to store your documents.
  • Decide on a clear subdivision of files and folders. Names of folders, for example, can be devised in such a way as to shorten the names of the files, e.g. file name 20150820_interviewcompanyA_audio becomes 20150820_CompanyA_audio in the folder Interviews
  • use distinguishable file names. The names should not be too long and be self-explanatory, e.g. Dataset1.xls is not a good example, but 20141125_transcript_v2 is.
  • Make it easy to distinguish between versions. This can be done, for example, by adding a date and a version number to the file name. The general convention for the date is the US format (YYYYMMDD), because it allows you to sort files in chronological order.

Tips for versioning

  • From the file name it should be clear what version it is. If necessary, the name of the person who created the file can also be added to the file name.
  • Store new versions of your files regularly, because files may become corrupt. Do this, for example, at weekly intervals on Friday afternoon, or upon completion of every chapter of your document.
  • Your raw data needs to be preserved at all times. Files containing raw data should therefore be clearly identifiable by their names.