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Developing and using a clear structure is the first step towards efficient data management. Researchers who join a research group for the first time can find out whether any previously developed structures already exist. One of the effective data organization strategies is the use of a folder structure. Each folder should contain structurally or contextually related data and should be named appropriately.
An efficient handling of the individual data or datasets is equally important as the effective data organization in folder structures. This is especially true if datasets undergo changes in the course of a research project. Therefore, a functional version control system is an important component of an organizational strategy.
Structured version control of files can be conducted in a separate version control document, which describes various document versions with relevant parameters (e.g., “Date of Last Modification,” “Modified By,” “Relevant Changes,” etc.).
Furthermore, documents can be versioned, in particular by assigning whole numbers for significant version changes and numbers linked with underscores for minor alterations (e.g., v1, v2, v1_01, etc.). It is not recommended to use labels such as “final,” “final2,” or “revision,” as it is easy to lose track of them.
There are several free version control software tools that can be used for research data organization. Using version control software is especially advisable if you have to deal with large amounts of data.
Documents and data often need to be managed in a controlled and organized manner across multiple organizations or research institutions. Various options and tools are available to researchers today. The following requirements should be met by a collaborative environment:
In addition to well-known cloud services, it is possible to establish a group drive within an institution or use a virtual research environment (e.g., MS SharePoint). Recommended tools can be found here, for example.