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Research life cycle: 2.Research phase: Version control

Why have version control?

If you are constantly working on data, it is important to introduce a form of version control. In particular, the possibility to restore data to an earlier version instead of having to start all over again or, even worse, to have to generate the data again, is a big advantage.

Methods

Adding a version number to the file name
This is the simplest way. Add a number at the end of a file name after any important change, for example v001, v002, or v1_0, v1_1, v2_0, possibly supplemented with the name of the person who created the version. Avoid labels such as 'final', 'final1', 'final2'.

Within one file
Add a 'version control' tab to the data file.

Create a separate 'Version control' document
This is a more extensive method. Use a table in which each change is recorded. In the 1st column, enter the version name, in the 2nd column, the date and in the 3rd column, an explanation of all changes made.

Automatic
There are programs that have their own automatic form of version control. Consult the 'help' of the relevant software to find out if this is the case.

Special software for version control
This is especially recommended if you often work with others on data and/or if the data set is continuously being edited. For example Git.

Tips

Save each file only once in the folder structure!
If a file is saved in multiple places and one of them is edited, multiple versions of the same file may be unintentionally created.

Protect your raw data!
Make sure that the raw data is at all times stored and has been given a clearly recognizable name.
Save the data in a separate secure folder in the folder structure (e.g. a 'read-only' folder).

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