Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
| University Libraries
See Updates and FAQs for the latest library services updates. Subject Librarians are available for online appointments, and Virtual Reference has extended hours.

Research Data Management Basics

This guide covers practical tips and best practices for managing project data.

Organize & Name Files

File Naming and Organization

File Extensions

Bulk File Renaming

  • The Windows Explorer and the Mac Finder will allow you to rename multiple files at once.
  • Bulk Rename Utility - more complicated to use than Ant Renamer.
  • Ant Renamer - easier to use then Bulk Rename Utility

Part of storing data during a project involves organizing directories and files. Consider how the data will be organized during the project.

Be consistent. Have standardized conventions for naming directory structure, folder names, and file names.

  • Always include the same information, such as date.
    Format dates as follows: YYYYMMDD.
     
  • Use only one period and use it only before the file extension.
    For example: name_paper.doc NOT name.paper.doc or name_paper..doc

     
  • Only allowable characters in the file name are the period, and use as indicated above.
    Other allowable characters are the underscore _ or dash -.
    Do not use special characters: &,*%#;()[]~"!@$?, etc.

    Avoid using spaces in the file and folder names.

Be descriptiveTry to keep file and folder names to less than 32 characters. Within reason, include relevant information such as:

  • Unique identifier (Project Name, Grant #)
  • Project or research data name
  • Conditions (lab instrument, solvent, temperature, etc.)
  • Run of experiment (sequential)
  • For sequential numbering use leading zeros to allow for multiple versions. For example, a sequence of 1-10 should be numbered 01-10.
  • Date
  • Use application-specific codes in file extensions: .txt, .pdf, .mov

File Version Control​ Indicate software used. Follow these naming conventions for version control

  • FNL = final
  • DFT = draft
  • V2 = version of document

File name example: 201510_dscplanning_interviews.csv

The above example indicates that it is a file of data compiled from interviews conducted during October 2015 for Digital Scholarship Center (DSC) planning.

Version Control

Version control systems are a good way to manage your research code and files. These systems track differences between file versions. Here are two popular systems: