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Keeping your files well organised allows you to locate your research data easily.
Organising and describing research data
Video Organising and describing research data

Organising data

To keep your research data useful and findable for yourself and others, it is important to describe and document your data well : capture all the information needed to understand the content and context of the data.

In addition, good organisation of your files ensures that you can find your research data easily. You also avoid confusion when working with different versions of files, and you can more easily see which data are (still) missing or of which file you have stored more copies unnecessarily.

If you organise your files into categories, you can give each category its own folder. Possible categories include chronological (month, year), file type (audio files, transcripts) or versions (drafts, final version).

File names
If you are consistent in the names you give your files, you can easily arrange files. A common method is chronological, e.g. '20140415Agenda.docx' or '09102023_Interview1.mp3'.

You can also distinguish different versions of files by using a version number in the file name, preceded by a small v. For example: JansenM_transcript_v1_0.docx.

Describing data

In your documentation you need to include information on the collection of the data, the data input, the data storage and the data processing. Lab journal or codebook also count as documentation of a dataset and are preferably stored with the data. 


  • context and methodology of the research
  • the (settings of the) apparatus or instruments used
  • the relation between files in a dataset or database
  • the content and structure of individual files (variables, etc.)