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Data Management: Data Organization

Resources for managing your data

What is data organization?

Data organization is the way in which you name and select your data. Best practices include:

  • Be consistent with how you name directories, folders, and files
    • Always include the same information
    • Retain the order of information
  • Be descriptive so others can understand what file names mean
  • Keep track of versions (and be consistent!)
  • Use application-specific codes for file extensions, such as .mov, tif, wrl
    • It will be important to track changes in your data files especially if there is more than one person involved in the research.

Metadata Standards

Metadata are data that provide information about other data. Metadata can either be created automatically or manually. Various standards or formats can be used to organize metadata. A funding source MAY require you to use a specific type of metadata standard.


  • Photograph metadata: what camera created the file, exposure information, when the photograph was taken, what filter was used, where the photograph was taken, etc.
  • Telecommunications metadata: origins and destinations of calls, who was on the call, when the call was made (time and date), call duration, call type, etc.

Metadata Standards


Free Version Control Software