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Research Data Management Toolkit

This guide provides information about research data management and the Research Data JCU platform

File Names

File names are often taken for granted, but when working on complex research projects it is important to be able to retrieve files quickly and effectively. It is good practice to adopt a file naming convention which is consistentlogical and descriptive. Abbreviations and codes can be used as long as they are clear and uniformly applied.

File names could include information such as:

  • Project or experiment name or acronym
  • Researcher name/initials
  • Year or date of experiment
  • Location/spatial coordinates
  • Data type
  • File version number

(Tip: It's a great idea to include a readme.txt file in the directory that explains the naming format and any abbreviations or code used.)

Avoid really long file names and special characters like ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; < > ? , [ ] { } ' " | in file names, directory paths and field names. Spaces in file names can also cause problems for some software or web applications, so underscores ( _ ), dashes ( - ), or camel case (e.g. FileName) could be used instead.

Re-naming multiple files is onerous but there are bulk re-naming utilities that can help, such as:

Folder Structures and File Directories

As with naming files, it is important to choose a folder structure for your research project that is consistent and logical in its organisation. If you are working on a collaborative project, it becomes all the more important to use a structure that is well-organised and clear to all parties involved. The kind of folder and file directory structure may ultimately on the nature of your research project, the disciplinary area you are working within, and the technical complexity involved. The UK Data Service provides some general advice on folder structures and notes that it helps to restrict the level of folders to three or four deep, and not to have more than ten items in each list. See their example from a social science related project below:



Take a look at this tweet from @micahgallen for an effective directory structure (for research projects) and notice how many researchers this resonated with!

/Projects
…/inProgress
 ....../ProjectName
 ........../docs 
.........../code
 ........../data
 ........../figures 
.../published 
.../submitted

 

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