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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Research Data Management

Best practices and tools for managing your research data.

File Structure Best Practices

Creating a plan for how to organize your data from the beginning of a research project can streamline access to and management of your data.

Image by Duke Libraries

File Naming Best Practices

File names should be unique, descriptive, and applied consistently. Avoid special characters, spaces, or periods (except before the file extension). Underscores or CamelCase should be used to separate elements and overly long file names should be avoided.

Common elements in descriptive file names: Project or Researcher Name, Study/Experiment Title or Type, Location, Date (formatted YYYYMMDD), or Version Number. For example:


Avoid relying on the directory structure to describe file contents. Files should be able to be independently understood by their file name. Consider creating a file inventory for each folder via a README file.