PhD survival Guide : Organise your files now!

We are all guilty of naming documents ‘chfbhfgb’ when we just want to get out the office after spending 12 hours straight there. Or just saving everything as ‘New’, ‘Newer’, and ‘Newest’. The time to kick these habits was when you started your PhD, but that ship may have sailed, so the next best time is now! As PhD students, we have SO many files and drafts and folders and chapters and words and references. It is overwhelming. Even more scary, all of this has to go into one neat (300ish) word thesis, that is meticulously presented.

You definitely can’t afford to waste a morning finding that appendix for study 1 which just so happened to be named ‘new’ in an unnamed folder.

The way I organised my files was having a folder for each of my thesis chapters and within those folders having multiple other folders including ‘results’, ‘complete drafts’ ‘important articles’. I name all the articles by author- not by the default when you download them, and I give all my other documents a detailed name and date. Name all your data outputs by the tests you were running not ‘output’. Give your figure images a brief title rather than just figure 1 (as your numbers might change).

But… I think the real trick is having a separate folder called ‘GOOD THESIS COPIES’- the capitals are necessary for drama. When you complete an appendix or figure put these into the good thesis copies folder, which again can be split into each chapter. It means that when you are compiling your thesis at the end, you have a really good starting point!

Oh and don’t forget to back up regularly!

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