Research Support - Faculty
Naming your research data files
Research projects can generate hundreds of data files. Short descriptive file names and a simple file hierarchy make these files easier to navigate and locate. Set up conventions for your project, document them for all team members, and be consistent.
Include dates in file names, using YYYYMMDD format.
This format will allow you to sort your files chronologically.
Include abbreviated identifier, when possible
Abbreviations help reduce the size of file names. Meanings of abbreviations should be shared with the research team.
Very briefly describe the contents of the file
Use brief, clear language (e.g. 'questionnaire')
Avoid spaces or special characters in file names
Use underscores or capitals to separate words. Spaces and special characters do not always translate well between software types.
Use version numbers and/or dates within file names
These will more easily allow you to keep track of the sequence and development of research documents/files. Use one or two leading zeros in version numbering (v001).
Keep folder structures simple and folder names clear
Simpler structures speed up back up and make finding files easier
Clearly document the steps you take throughout the research process. Documentation supports shared understanding among research teams, helps researchers recall the details of the methods and procedures of the research, and provides context if research data will be put to reuse or further analysis.