File and folder naming

Descriptive file names are an important part of organising, sharing, and keeping track of data files. Develop a naming convention based on elements that are important to the project. Use hierarchical file structures to add additional organisation to your files. As with file naming use whatever makes most sense for your data.


Please let the data steward of the CRC know if you and your team have agreed on or changed a naming standard. By doing this, the data steward can make sure the new naming convention is reflected in the research project’s data management plan. This helps everyone work together using the same standards and conventions.


  • Use existing best practices of the working field.

  • Use unified file names, e.g., Project_Experiment_Scientist_20180523T134241+0100_v1_0_0.csv.

  • Store data in a hierarchical folder structure.

  • Use systematic, content-related folder naming that is understandable to third parties.

  • Try to use no more than three subfolder levels.

  • Consistent order in file naming, e.g., use date format ISO 8601 for dates: YYYY-MM-DD or YYYYMMDD (see the guidelines for date and time for more information)

  • File names should be without special characters, capital letters, spaces and full stops. Use underscores instead of periods, spaces or slashes.

5S Methodology

Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise, and Sustain. By using the 5S Methodology1, researchers can ensure that their workspace is organised, efficient, and easy to navigate, which can lead to improved collaboration and productivity. In a research setting like the CRC, the 5S Methodology can be particularly useful as it helps researchers keep their research data organised and consistent, ensuring that everyone involved in a project is using the same standards and conventions. This leads to improved data management practices, which can ultimately benefit the quality and outcome of the research.

  1. Sort: This step involves identifying and removing any unnecessary items, such as files or tools. This helps to minimise clutter and streamline the workspace.

  2. Set in Order: Once the unnecessary items have been removed, this step involves creating a useful and organised structure for your files and folders. This includes establishing naming conventions and creating a system for finding and accessing files quickly.

  3. Shine: In this step, the focus is on maintaining the organisation that was established in step 2. This involves regularly checking and updating the structures and systems to make sure they remain effective and efficient.

  4. Standardise: This step involves establishing standards and best practices for organising files and folders. This can include creating templates or guidelines for naming conventions, as well as developing a system for monitoring and updating the structures.

  5. Sustain: The final step of the 5S methodology involves making organisation a habit and ensuring it continues to be an ongoing part of the workplace culture. This can involve updating and improving the structures over time, as well as training new employees on the best practices for file and folder organisation.

By following these five steps, the 5S methodology helps to create a more efficient and organised workplace, where it is easier to find and access files and information.


Lang, Kevin, Roman, Gerlach, Jessica, Rex, Annett, Schröter, Nadine, Neute, & Lehmann, Anne. (2021). The 5S Methodology in Research Data Management. Zenodo.