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Research Data Management Basics

Data management is an important part of the research life cycle. This guide covers best practices and resources.

Files, Folders, & Version Control

File Naming and Organization

File Extensions

Bulk File Renaming Utilities

  • Ant Renamer - easier to use then Bulk Rename Utility
  • Bulk Rename Utility - more complicated to use than Ant Renamer.
  • Windows or Mac operating systems have features that allow you to rename multiple files at once.

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:

File Naming

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.