Well organized file names and folder structures make it easier to find and keep track of data files. A system needs to be practical and used consistently.
Good file names can provide useful cues to the content and status of a file, can uniquely identify a file and can help in classifying files. File names can contain project acronyms, researchers' initials, file type information, a version number, file status information and date.
Best practice is to:
- create meaningful but brief names
- use file names to classify broad types of files
- avoid using spaces and special characters
- avoid very long file names
Whilst computers add basic information and properties to a file, such as file type, date and time of creation and modification, this is not reliable data management. For example, when files are copied, for revision or as a template, the system does not account for their new purpose and treats them as a copy of the original file.
- FG1_CONS_12-02-2010 is the file that contains the transcript of the first focus group with consumers, that took place on 12 February 2010
- Int024_AP_05-06-2008 is an interview with participant 024, interviewed by Anne Parsons on 5 June 2008
Version numbering in file names is useful to indicate files revisions or edits, especially in collaborations. This can be through discrete or continuous numbering depending on minor or major revisions.
Adapted from the UK Data Archive