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Manage Data Organising Naming Data
Please note

Tools for (re-)naming files

Naming and organising files

Below, you will find information concerning the organisation and naming of digital research data, i.e. file names, versioning and directory structures.

It is helpful to define regulations for your own work and the research project.

File folders and files should be systematically labelled and structured to ensure easy tracking and access to the files by current and future users. It will thus be possible to avoid longer searches for files or comparison of versions. Alterations will be transparent and files will not be deleted or altered by accident.

You can find individual chapters here:

 File organisation/ directory structure


 Naming files

 Naming research data and research materials

 Further information and sources

File organisation/ directory structure

The type of file organisation is, amongst other aspects, defined by the conditions of a specific project which might determine a certain storage location or structure. In this regard, data protection or ethical issues might be relevant, e.g. copyright and licenses, type and number of different data used in a project, and expected volume of files.

Storage location

A suitable location for data storage has enough capacity, it is part of a backup management, enables all parties and all entitled users access and prohibits unlawful access.

Directory structure

Ideally, a directory structure is hierarchical and reflects content requirements.

The following categories can be considered:

Examples for folders in a system (cf. Long 2009):


In order to track and distinguish different stages of file editing, versioning should be consequently defined. Versioning needs to be transparent to the file producer and all the users.

Versions can be identified via the file name, the file itself or a specific versioning document.

Example - Versioning in file or specific document:

last change
changed by
Max Mustermann
public/ confidential


Version document
1.0. (1.3.2016)
1.1. (1.7.2016)
Corrected typos
1.2. (7.12.2016)
Change to layout
2.0. (19.6.2017)
Added new chapter (3.1.)


Example - Versioning in file name

Please also note

File naming

File naming constitutes an important part of archiving.

Clear file naming

Regulations for the chosen method of naming files:

Possible problems too long file names and paths:



Example for an error message that appears if the maximum length of characters Is exceeded.

Examples for errors that can appear if a file name contains too many umlaut characters.


Possible characters in file names:

Naming research data and research materials

Below, important labels for respective files are highlighted in red.

File name elements in general

[ID or study number]_[abbreviation for type of data or  material]_[connective number]_[ version]_[. Serial numner]

Qualitative interviews "int"

Possible elements of the name:
[ID or study number]_[abbreviation for  interview]_[connective nummber]_[version]

Example: file name for the first in a series of interviews

Example: several audio files per interview  

[ID or study number]_[abbreviation for interview]_[connective number]_[Version]_[ identifier for series]

Focus groups "fg"

Example: sample labelling for the first transcript of a focus group

[ID or study number]_[abbr. For focus group]_[connective number]_[version]

s01_fg01_v001 (rtf-file, saved as s01_fg_001_v01.rtf)

Image and video files "pic", "vid"

Example: first image and video file

[ID or study number]_[abbr. for image or video]_[number]_[version]

Example: an image is connected to a speccific incident or event (e.g. picture of a focus group or a person)

[ID or study number]_[image or video]_[ connective number]_[version]_[identifier for series]

Example: the picture belongs to an Interview, and naming is in accordance with the naming of the respective interview with image file extension (.tiff)

Observation "obs", field notes "notes"

Example: notes taken during ainterpretation of a poem in a lesson

[ID or study number]_[type of lesson material]_[connective number]

Quantitative data "ds", "syn", "op"

[ID or study number]_[identifier for dataset]_[version]
e.g. s5600_ds01_v01

[ID or study number]_[identifier for syntax]_[version]
e.g. s5600_syn01_v01

[ID or study number]_[identifier for output]_[version]
e.g. s5600_op01


[ID or study number]_[data type]_[version]


Further information and sources

Kaps, R. und Volker S. 2017.  Vertiefungsworkshop zum Forschungsdatenmanagement. Dateienorganisation und Projektablage   (only available in German, Workshop im Rahmen des Weiterbildungsprogramms der Leibniz Universität Hannover, 9. März 2017).

Long, J. S. (2009). The Workflow of Data Analysis Using Stata. Texas: Stata Press.

Research Data Management Training   by the University of Edinburgh - "Organising Data".


last update: 20.07.2018

Please note

Tools for (re-)naming files

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