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File Organization + Naming

File Organization + Naming

Presentation given to the UW-Madison Hope Lab, November 2015.


Brianna Marshall

November 10, 2015


  1. file organization + naming BRIANNA MARSHALL | RESEARCH DATA SERVICES

  2. about Brianna Marshall Lead, Research Data Services –  Education +

    training –  Consultations –  Data management plans (DMPs) researchdata.wisc.edu @UWMadRschSvcs
  3. file naming DOs •  The five C’s: clear, concise, consistent,

    correct, conformant •  Brief (25 characters or less) •  Include the date (YYYYMMDD) •  Include version numbers at the end (01, 02, etc.) •  Be descriptive – Project code – Researcher initials – Instrument
  4. file naming DON’Ts •  Avoid naming after people – instead

    by topic or work area •  Avoid common words like draft, final, etc. •  No special characters, periods, or spaces – use dashes or underscores to make it human readable Consider what will help you understand and sort the files later.
  5. EXAMPLE MyDocuments\Research\Sample12.tiff vs. C:\\NSFGrant01234\WaterQuality\Images\LakeMendota_20141030.tiff

  6. hierarchical organization: the basics •  Limited number of folders (broad

    topics) •  More specific sub-folders, which can also function as task lists •  Deep, intricate structures make things harder to find •  Group by similarity or function – not by file type •  Distinguish between folders for active, ongoing work and past, completed projects
  7. roles •  If it was easy it would already be

    done (“a heavyweight cognitive activity”) •  Having one “owner” is key – they make the judgment calls and enforce use – Setting permissions – Maintenance, regular checks to the system – Balancing breadth vs. depth – Balancing doing too much vs. too little – Ensuring items go to the best place
  8. inbox / scratch folder •  Top level master folder (convenience)

    vs. inbox for individual projects •  For actionable files needing to be processed in some way •  Be vigilant about clearing the inbox and moving files to the appropriate folder •  Oh, and make sure there’s only ONE folder being used as your inbox •  May make sense to designate folders for lab members
  9. inbox / scratch folder example Inbox Mira Active [ current

    working files, drafts ] Feedback [ files that require feedback ] “Hi John, I placed my version of the draft grant application in my feedback folder. After you make your edits feel free to move it to x folder for team edits.”
  10. folder hierarchy example INBOX Mira John PROJECT 01 Administrative Outputs

    Publications Presentations Grant 01 Grant 02 Data Raw Analyzed PROJECT 02 PAST PROJECTS 2013 2014
  11. final suggestions •  Do an inventory of all files produced;

    base your system off of your content. There is no one right system. •  Pilot your new method. After three months, what’s working? What isn’t working? •  Whoever “owns” file organization must have the authority to bug everyone! •  Make it a habit; with time, it will become easier for everyone.
  12. file organization in context 1. Use open file formats when

    possible. 2. Organize + name files meaningfully. 3. Document your research process. 4. Back up your data. 5. Have a plan and stick with it.
  13. [ researchdata.wisc.edu ]

  14. thanks for listening! Brianna Marshall brianna.marshall@wisc.edu Research Data Services researchdata.wisc.edu

  15. additional resources Some content from this presentation is adapted from

    the following resources: MIT Libraries https://libraries.mit.edu/data-management/files/2014/05/ file-organization-july2014.pdf How To Geek http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/15677/zen-and-the-art- of-file-and-folder-organization/