Establishing file naming conventions and folder hierarchies at the beginning of a research project will make it easier for you and your collaborators to navigate and find specific files, and avoid file duplication and accidental deletion. The most important rule is to be consistent. Best practices include:
For further guidance and examples of best practices, see Stanford Libraries guide.
A well structured file hierarchy will make it easier to locate and share your files. Some recommended practices include:
See an example of folder hierarchy from the UK Data Service.
For research data to be read and interpreted correctly, it requires sufficient description and documentation. Consider the information needed to make your data ‘independently understandable’, now and in the future. For example:
Remember that it is best to document your data throughout the research process, rather than at a later stage.
Typically, file format selection will be determined by the software you use for data collection or analysis. However, because technology changes, storing and sharing research data over the long-term requires it be kept in a format that is widely accessible and readable. Researchers should consider whether their data needs to be converted to another format for archiving once their project is completed. In most cases, open file formats are preferred.
For recommendations on file formats consult these resources:
Metadata is "structured information associated with an object for purposes of discovery, description, use, management, and preservation. Metadata are often called data about data or information about information." (NISO, 2004)
Metadata should follow defined standards in make it findable, accessible and reusable. These standards vary according to the research discipline. For help identifying an appropriate metadata standard for your project, contact UVic Libraries. You can also search for metadata standards in your discipline through the DCC open directory: