Organize your project files and folders

I have completed undergraduate level research, a Master’s degree, a PhD, and two post-docs, yet I have never been taught or told how I should organize the files and folders related to a project. Being organized is essential in most aspects of life, and this is particularly trying when conducting research.

I only found a few online examples of blogs or tutorials on how to organize files and folders for a research project, many of which were geared for research working with big data, climate research, and other fields that have very different requirements to my own. For example, none of the examples I found considered things like ethics applications, study protocols and lab books. I therefore decided to create my own project template, which I now use to set-up every new project.

Project template

Rather than have a set of folder and files that I would copy and paste to initialize a new project, I stole an idea from one of the project template tutorials I found on-line: create a Python program that handles the entire process. This allows the whole process to be automated.

I keep my project template under version control using Git and have made it available on GitHub if anybody would like to use my project template. Navigate to this page and you will be able to clone (if you are familiar with Git) or download the project template. I have documented the repository and provided an example of how to use the template to create a new project.

My project template may not be appropriate for some people. Feel free to adapt and change my template to suite your needs. I am also open to hearing about other peoples experiences: how do you organize your files and folders? Did you develop your own approach or did someone teach you along the way? Is there something you do differently that you have found works for you?


Being organized is important. And if you are like me, it will always be a struggle. So consider adopting a standardized approach to organizing your projects and do not be afraid to talk with your colleagues about how they stay organized, you might learn something really cool and useful along the way.


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