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A Guide To...Digital and Emerging Scholarship

This guide is dedicated to the advancement of digital and emerging scholarship at the College of the Holy Cross.

Organizing Data

Organized data is important for every stage of your research process. By making sure your data is organized and easily accessible, you will be able to revisit your work easily and your team members will be able to work collectively, even at different times or places. By planning ahead and following organization techniques, a lot of time will be saved later.

Choosing a File Format

File formats are typically determined by the type of hardware or research output involved with your project. You may already be aware of the best file format for your project or you may have to do some extra research. Keep in mind, for preservation reasons, your research may need to be converted to another format as the last stage of your project. This will ensure that your work is accessible for as long as possible!

For more information on file format selection, visit Cornell’s Research Data Management Service Group’s file format page.

Naming Conventions

It’s important that your research files are organized to ensure easy accessibility and cross-referencing. No one wants to spend extra time digging through poorly labeled folders to find a specific piece of data.

Basic information that you should consider including in your file names (also known as naming conventions) are as follows:

  • Project name or acronym
  • Location information
  • Researcher name/initials
  • Date of experiment
  • Type of data
  • Version number
  • Three-letter file extension for application-specific files

Additional tips for file naming includes:

  • Setting a standard for dates such as YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD. By naming the year first, this will ensure that your files stay in date order when sorted by file title.
  • Avoid special characters (such as !@#$%, spaces, etc.).
  • Always use leading zeroes, especially when there will be a large number of files. For example, end a file name with “001, 002, 003, …). This way, the files will automatically organize into sequential order, even into the hundreds.
  • Instead of using spaces (which many software programs will not recognize), consider alternatives such as underscores (ex. file_name), dashes (ex. file-name), or capital letters (ex. FileName).

If you find yourself in a position where you need to change the name of multiple files at once, consider using a specialized software such as Bulk Rename Utility or Renamer.

Be sure to create a guide for your naming conventions that lays out options in a clear and precise way. This will help your team members all stay on the same page and will ensure your files stay organized.