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Data management for students: Filing & versioning

Research Data Management (RDM) for students of the Radboud University

Why is organising your data important?

You should organise your data files through filing, versioning and making backups, throughout your research. This way you can ensure that the data is easily findable, the right versions can be identified, and your data files are kept safe, even years into the future.

During filing and versioning you create well-organised file-/ and folder names and structures to easily find and keep track of your data files.

How do you organize your files and folders? - Filing

A clear folder structure is important for retrieving all your files and documents in a quick and efficient way (see also the example below '...Versioning').

  • Consider what folders will be needed to store and arrange your files. This will differ for each research(er). Consider the creation of folders such as Administration, Interviews, Literature, Experiment data, and Chapters. 
  • Decide on a clear subdivision of files and folders. Names of folders can be devised to shorten the names of the files, e.g. file name '20190320_interviewcompanyA_audio' becomes '20190320_CompanyA_audio' in the folder Interviews

How do you name your (data) files? - Versioning

  • The file name should define what version it is. 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 format (YYYYMMDD), because it allows you to sort files in chronological order. For versions e.g. '...v2' or '...defversion' may work.
  • If necessary, the name of the author can also be added to the file name. Especially if your supervisor or someone else adds information or remarks.
  • Use distinguishable file names. The names should be relatively short and self-explanatory: e.g. 'Dataset1.xls' is not a good example, but '20181125_data MRI_experiment 3-5_v2' is. You can describe the content further inside the data-file or in a separate file.
  • Store new versions regularly, because files may become corrupt. Do this, e.g. weekly 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.