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How do I organize data?

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Use resources to ensure good data organization.  For more details see another Digital Curation Exchange page:



  • Van den Eynden, Veerle, Louise Corti, et al.  "Managing and sharing data."  Colchester: UK Data Archive, 2011.

    Section on Organising Files and Folders (pages 13-14) summarises best practice.

  • Barkstrom, Bruce and Mike Folk.  "Attributes of file formats for long-term preservation of scientific and engineering data in digital libraries."  Joint Council on Digital Libraries, 2003. -- opens a Word document 

    This paper describes the need to consider how file formats affect the ease and effectiveness with which scientific and engineering data may be stored and accessed in long term archives.  They identify a number of attributes of file formats that can help or hinder them as candidates for long-term digital preservation and consider how these attributes appear to a number of different audiences for long-term archiving.

  • Digital Curation Centre.  "Standard Naming Conventions."  Last updated February 28, 2012. 

    Written by the Records Management Section at the University of Edinburgh, this document provides a common set of rules to apply to the naming of electronic records.  The conventions are primarily intended for use with Windows-based software and documents such as word-processed documents, spreadsheets, presentations, e-mails and project plans.  "File names" are the names that are listed in the file directory and that users give to new files when they save them for the first time.  The conventions assume that a logical directory structure or filing scheme is in place and that similar conventions are used for naming the levels and folders within the directory structure.

  • Davidson, Joy.  "Placing our stuff so we can find it later: A meta-learning essential."  Digital Curation Centre. April 10, 2006. 

    Learning from our previous work is often inhibited by difficulties in finding relevant materials after a period of time and, when found, making sense of them.  Presented here are several practical approaches for alleviating this difficulty.  The suggestions are (1) craft meaningful, contextual file names; (2) place things where they can be easily found; and, (3) relentlessly discard useless items.  It is widely accepted that meta-learning is a matter of acquiring skills.  This paper suggests how three specific skills related to using computing technology can be improved, thus enabling enhanced learning for these populations.  Following this discussion, the paper will link back up with a meta-learning perspective on the value of improving these skills.

  • Hook, Les A., Suresh K. Santhana Vannan, Tammy W. Beaty, Robert B. Cook, and Bruce E. Wilson.  "Best Practices for Preparing Environmental Data Sets to Share and Archive."  September 2010. 

    Read pages 12-14: 2.2. Use Consistent Data Organization.

Last updated on 10/03/13, 12:00 pm by tlchristian


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