Data organisation

In general, data organisation refers to the arrangement of data for retrieval. By improving data organisation, you improve the retrievability of your data both for yourself and other data users.

Clear data storage structures ensure that data is easy to retrieve. This is especially key when multiple people work on and with the data. The easiest way to improve retrievability is to establish and adhere to binding rules and structures from the very beginning of your project.

The goal of data management is to maintain an overview of the existing data, as well as all backup copies and editions, at all times. In this way, data loss is minimized, as is the risk of working with outdated files. 

A clear data structure is also essential for the preservation and reuse of the data. By following a few rules for data organisation right from the start, you can avoid the tedious task of sorting your data after project completion.

Most likely, your Research Unit will already have a well-established storage structure in place, which can simply be adopted.

The following recommendations generally apply to data storage systems:

  • Store all data in folders and subfolders, sorted by structure and content.
  • Work with a maximum of three subfolder levels.
  • Name the folders so that the content is clearly recognizable.
  • Use the same folder structures in all projects, if possible.

In this case, it is advisable to work with well-established standards. In addition to a clear description of the content, the development and modification of documents and data sets during the project should be considered.

It is advisable to keep the following guidelines in mind when naming files:

  • Number each data set on an ongoing basis.
  • Choose a short, meaningful name. The name should consist only of letters, numbers, underscores and hyphens. Avoid spaces, slashes, umlauts and special characters.
  • Add a version number and the YYYYMMDD format to altered data and documents.
  • Name edited records to include the word "final."
  • In the event of multiple editors, specify the editor using initials or name abbreviations. For example: 01_Labordaten 2017_V2_20181121_AW