All the documentation for your project should be stored in one folder, which we refer to as the Project Folder.

Contents of the Project/ Folder


  • The Read Me file: A user's guide to the documentation for your project.
  • The Report: The document in which you present the Results of your project


  • Data/: Contains various versions of the data used in your project.
  • Scripts/: Contains scripts that execute the data processing and analysis that generate the results of your project.
  • Output/: Contains files that capture figures, tables, and other results generated by your scripts.

Naming the Project Folder

Give this folder the name Project/, or choose a sensible alternative, such as:

  • ChrisNguyenSeniorThesis/
  • CNguyenLabExercise3/
  • IncomeInequalityPaper/
  • Conventions for naming folders

    We suggest you adopt the following conventions when choosing a name for the Project Folder, or for any of the subfolders you create inside the Project Folder:

    • Do not include spaces in folder names; instead, use PascalCase.
      • For example, instead of naming a folder "My New Folder", name it "MyNewFolder".
    • When you refer to a folder in a written document, write the name of the folder in bold font, with a forward slash (/) after the name. In the name you give the folder on your computer, leave the forward slash off.
      • For example, if one of the folders on your computer is named "MyNewFolder", refer to it as MyNewFolder/ when you mention it in any document (such as your Read Me file).

Getting Started

Where should I keep my documentation?

You should save the folder hierarchy in which you will be storing your documentation in a place that is secure and that you can easily access.

One option is to keep your documentation on the hard drive of your computer.

Alternatively, you can choose one of the many web-based platforms that are available, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, the Open Science Framework, or GitHub.

  • Read more

    Storing documentation on your computer versus a web platform

    Keeping your documentation on the hard drive of your computer works well if you do not need to share it with anyone else while you work on your project.

    A web-based platform is convenient if you will be collaborating with other students, or if you hope to get useful guidance from your instructor while you work on your project.

    Make sure your work gets backed up

    Wherever you decide to keep your documentation, be sure all your files are backed up on a regular basis.

When should I create the documentation for my project?

You should create and assemble all the various components of your documentation bit by bit throughout all the phases of work on your project.

Creating your documentation is not something to do as an afterthought once you have completed your project.

  • Read more
    • Before you even collect or access the data for your project, you should build the hierarchy of folders and subfolders in which you will store your documentation. As a default, use the structure of the TIER Protocol (illustrated in the chart in the left margin of this page), but feel free to adapt or simplify it to suit your particular project.
    • When you first construct your hierarchy of folders and subfolders, they will all be empty; you will fill them with the documents you construct while you work.
    • Create each component of your documentation, and save it in the appropriate folder, at the earliest possible point in your work. For example:
      • As soon as you obtain your Input Data Files, you should store them in your InputData/ folder, store their codebooks in your Metadata/ folder, and write your Metadata Guide (which you should also store in your Metadata/ folder). You should begin working with your data only after you have saved the codebooks and written your Metadata Guide.
      • Write the Data Appendix as soon as you have written the Processing Scripts that create your Analysis Data Files. Do not begin analyzing your data until after you have written the Data Appendix.
      • Writing your scripts will typically take days or weeks or months. Throughout the entire time you are working on your scripts, keep the most up-to-date versions in the appropriate folders (Procesing/, DataAppendixScript/, or Analysis/). At the end of the project, when you have written the versions that you will store with the completed documentation, simply leave them in their folders.