Organise and structure data/files

Choosing a logical and consistent way to organise and name your data files and folders allows you and others to locate and use them. Think about how to name and structure your data at the start of a project.

Organising your data files carefully will save you time and frustration and prevent duplication or errors by helping you and your colleagues find what you need when you need it.


  • Existing conventions and procedures – find out what they are (research group, Department, College or University) and follow them, or help put some in place.
  • Consistency – agree what works and stick to it.  Don’t use no or multiple conventions.
  • Use of folders – apply logical structuring of files within folders relating to projects or issues, keeping things in the same place and making them easy to find.  Don’t leave files unsorted, hanging under top level folders.
  • Structure folders hierarchically – design a hierarchy with higher level broader topics, with more specific folders within these.  Do not create very tall, and/or labyrinthine structures e.g. with similar issues appearing at multiple levels.
  • Good folder naming – folders should be named after projects and research issues, with clear meaning.  Do not create names which are meaningless (or only mean something to you), excessively long, or relate to individuals.
  • Current and completed work – it may help to separate current and completed work or versions or files/documents e.g. where a document will have many versions and multiple contributors consider a “Current version” folder.
  • Review what you have – don’t keep pointless multiple copies of data, and consider carefully what you need to retain, for how long, and what can (and can’t) be destroyed/deleted.  Consider this at intervals and at the end of a project.

Don’t name folders or store data in relation to the names of individuals e.g. 'Fred stuff'. What happens when they leave?  Who knows what is there?

Don’t use excessively long or meaningless folder and file names - follow an appropriate convention that everyone knows about.

Further Information

Research Data material:

RDM Principles

Data Planning Documents

DMP Documents - Small file

Poster (pdf pdf)

University of Leicester Research Data Management poster

Brochure (pdf pdf)


Blog Data For Research Blog




Input and feedback

August 2018 - This website will be relaunched in September 2018. Feedback and input is welcome, so please let the library research services team know what type of content you would like to be included on the website by contacting us at

RDM news and events
  1. The University of Leicester Figshare for data digital archive is now available for research staff and PhD students. User guidance on upload/data deposit.
  2. Information Governance training is now available, provided by e-LfH (an NHS organisation). The University has registered to access this NHS resource and individual accounts can be set up by sending name and email address to Andrew Burnham.
  3. There is now a standard University Privacy Impact Assessment process where data collection or receipt, or systems purchase or development may have privacy consequences
  4. The University has adopted a simple data classification model which must be applied by the research PI and/or data owner
  5. We share our RDM survey: overview findings presentation as well as the results of our 2015 survey on Your research data management needs
  6. There is now a University Information Governance web presence
  7. Our Data Management Planning documents have been updated - hard copies can be obtained if you contact
  8. Jisc has published a new RDM strategy document - "Directions for RDM Management in UK Universities"
  9. The Partridge Review - HSCIC Data Release Review - Full report (3.58 Mb) and Summary
  10. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have published a new Research data policy underpinned by nine core principles and Data management plan guidance (26/03/2015)
  11. RDM Principles approved by the University.
  12. DMPonline version 4.0 - DCC "DMPonline" (Data Management Planning) v4 has gone live. You can use this web based form to create your Data Management Plan, and share it with your collaborators.
  13. Research funder specific web pages (accessible via 'Data Planning & Management - What you need to do') for data planning and management guidance (AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, and STFC)
  14. 'Data Planning & Management - what you need to' - a web page to take you through what you need to do about data planning and management.
  15. 'RDM - The Movie' is released! The 4 minute digital story of research data work here at Leicester.

... more News and Events

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