Organize your files
File naming and folder hierarchy
Keeping track of research data and documentation is critical. Strategies include:
- Spend time planning out both folder hierarchy and file naming conventions in the beginning of a project. Consider how you or others will look for and access files at a later date. Do you think about them by type, location, study or something else?
- Establish a folder hierarchy that aligns with the project. Example: [Project] / [Experiment] / [Instrument or Type of file]
- Consider all aspects of the project and develop a file naming scheme that includes important metadata. Example: [Date]_[Run]_[SampleType]
- Consider sorting when deciding what element of the file name will go first. File names starting with YYYYMM will sort differently than files starting with the MMDDYYYY format.
- Provide a method for easy adoption. Consider a shared dropbox with the folder hierarchy in place and a readme file in onboarding documentation for new contributors.
- Check for established file naming conventions. Many disciplines have recommendations, for example: DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program.
For more help, consider these resources:
- Naming and organizing your files and folders worksheet
- Documenting your naming and organization schema, sample and template READMEs
- File naming best practices handout (pdf)
- Batch file renaming tools handout (pdf)
- Version control tools & techniques handout (pdf)
- Tagging and Finding Your Files (web page)
Download the whole file organization package.
Also see our materials from our workshop on file organization.