Organize Files and Data
File organization with a logical, clear structure and labeling system enables not only others to access your data, but makes it easier for you to find your own data as well. These are the public's data, and we have a stewardship responsibility to the data. Thinking about how you will organize your files and data early on in planning may save you from having to reorganize and rename files later on.
Example: Why File Organization Matters
A wildlife biologist for a small field office was the in-house GIS expert and provided support for all the staff's GIS needs. However, the data were stored on her own workstation. When the biologist relocated to another office, no one understood how the data were stored or managed.
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:
The USGS Manual Handbook for Managing Records, 432-1-H, October 1990 covers both physical and electronic files:
"This Survey Manual Handbook (432-l-H) supplements the USGS Files Management Program objectives set forth in SM 432.l (Records Management Program) and SM 431.9 (Micrographics) Specifically, it prescribes standards and procedures to ensure that adequate and proper records are made and preserved to fully document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and essential transactions of the U.S. Geological Survey; and to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the USGS and persons directly affected by its activities."
The USGS Manual Geology Discipline Research Records Schedule 432-1-S5 discusses the creation of a filing system and filing plan. While directed at retiring employees, it is applicable to everyone:
"Retiring Employees: If you haven't established a filing system and file plan, now is the time to do it. Ask a records management specialist for help. The file plan will follow your permanent records to records centers and archives, to ensure that your scientific legacy is not lost."