Great organization is your best asset for data management.
Create a system
Work with collaborators
Use file version control
Use a System
The most important step to organize your research data is having a system and using it consistently. You may choose to organize your data by the following, or use them in combination:
By analysis type
By site or data source
Document, Document, Document
Document throughout your research process.
Document any data processing analyses
Include both written, electronic, and recorded notes
Create documentation within your organization at project and folder levels
Create a README.txt file
Use descriptive names within your documentation
README.txt files are a recommended method to document your project and add context when clarity is needed.
You should use a README.text file at the top level of your research project folder to explain the purpose of the research, the relevant summary, name and contact information for project researchers, general organization of your files, and copyright and licensing information. A README file will be crucial for another researcher or collaborator to understand your data - but could even be useful to yourself in six months or six years when you might return to a project.
Open file formats are less likely to become obsolete. Proprietary software, such as Microsoft Office Suite, may become obsolete. Open file formats have a history of wide adoption and backward compatibility. By choosing open file formats you can help ensure your data is accesible in the future.