A well-documented and consistently applied organization of data will make it easier for you and your project colleagues to find and keep files in order during the project process. Maintaining good order will also help other researchers who want to analyze and reuse previously collected data do so with as little risk for errors as possible. It improves the traceability of data in research, whether it is you who need to backtrack your research to find data or explain the research process, or a later researcher or reviewer who wants to review how data in a certain study were processed, and how a certain result was reached.
In this section, we will discuss file formats and give some practical advice on how to structure data with file names, file versioning, and a transparent folder structure. Some questions you may want to consider are:
- How do I plan to organize the collected research data?
- How can I name files and folders so that it is obvious what they contain?
- Will data be saved as separate files or collected in databases?
- How will the data be checked and corrected or deleted?
- What are the possible sources of error?
Folder structure, file names, and versioning
Some helpful considerations when you give names to folders and files, and separate different versions of files.