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Ekstrom Library

Data Management

Naming Conventions

Use file naming conventions that makes your files consistent and easy to find. The first part of the file name should be based on how you will want to find your data. For example, if the date is more important, use that first.

  • Document and use codes or acronyms to make your naming conventions more concise.
    • For example, FG or focus group data
  • Use leading numbers with at least three digits so files will be ordered sequentially. 
    • For example, 001, 011, 100
  • Using the ISO 8601 standard for dates so they appear chronologically: YYYYMMDD.
    • For example, 20230901
  • Use underscores or camelCase to separate parts of the file name. These character can be used for most programs.
    • For example, 20230901_FG_001

File Structure

Use nested folders in a way that is easy to use and based on how you will try to find data. Use the most important attribute as the top file. For example, year then location. Some general rules include: 

  • Avoid overlapping categories and redundancies. 
  • Find balance. Folders shouldn't contain too much or be too nested. 
  • Use file naming best practices for folders.

Version Control

When working with different versions of data, document what changed, who did, and why.

  • In some cases, you can manually log these differences in the file name with a date or version number.
    • For example, fileName_V2.docx
  • If available, use version history features like track changes in Word, and cloud saved versions in Word Online and Google Docs.
  • Consider using code repositories like GitHub with version control.