Organizing files

Organizing your files using names and locations that are informative help to document what your files are and how they relate to other files. The more informative your file organization, the more reproducible your research will be.

Be consistent throughout the research process

Create a project directory and give it an informative name. Create and name subdirectories (components) with informative names and locations. Maintain naming conventions throughout the research lifecycle.

Use one directory for one project

Using one directory makes it easier to find everything. Sharing your project is easier as you can zip parts of your directory (e.g. data). On the OSF, you can zip components and save with the date in the name as a way of documenting changes and versions over time.

Separate raw data from derived data

Within your data/ component, create separate subdirectories for raw data, derived data, and data summaries. Explain the nature of the data in the file by its location in the project directory.

Separate code from data

Within your project/ directory, create separate components for code and data

Separate output

Within your project/ directory, create a separate subdirectory for your output

  • Manuscript output, figures, numerical output, and any other output should be separate from code and data
  • Can name results/, output/, etc. with subdirectories for different types of output

Make raw data read-only

When you are not entering data, make your raw data file read-only to ensure it is not altered or mixed with other data. Consider uploading raw data as an uneditable file type, such as .pdf.

Don’t attempt calculations, sums, or visualizations within the raw data file. This avoids accidentally introducing mistakes into the raw data. If you want to make calculations on the data, make a copy and rename it.

Make README files

Document the files contents and purpose of the directory and each subdirectory. Describe the files contained within the directory or subdirectory and explain how subdirectories relate to one another. Whenever files are added or the subdirectory is changed, update the README file to document the changes.