Setting up a file organization system may seem like a lot of up-front work, but it will save you time and productivity in the end. There are no "rules" of file organization, only guidelines. Work with your collaborators to devise an organization system that works best for you and your data.
Directory Structure Naming
The directory of folders is the top level of data organization. Some tips for creating a folder directory structure:
A good file naming system will facilitate quick and easy access to your data in the future, and should be intuitive to team members and colleagues.
Tracking the version of a file is always important, but particularly so when multiple people are working on the same project or with the same data files. Some general file versioning principles include:
Short-Term Data Storage
Short-term data storage typically refers to the period of time covering the beginning of the project to publication. The short-term storage of data should be maintained in ALL of the following locations:
1) Original copy on lab or PI computer
2) External local (e.g. saved to an external hard drive)
3) External remote (e.g. cloud-based storage such as Dropbox, Mega, OneDrive, or Google Drive)
Long-Term Data Storage
Long-term data storage refers to permanent archiving after the completion of a project.
There are many third-party data repositories suitable for long-term storage. Some of these are broad and general while others are subject-specific, so make sure you select the right repository for your data.
Many funding agency data management plans include a requirement that your data will be freely and publicly available in a repository.