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Research Data Management: Version Control

Bringing together University resources and services to facilitate researchers in the production of high quality data

Version Control

Version control is the means by which different versions and drafts of a document (or file, or record, or dataset) are managed. It involves a process of naming and distinguishing between a series of draft documents which lead to a final (or approved) version, which in turn may be subject to further amendments.

It therefore provides an audit trail for the revision and update of draft and final versions.

Version control is particularly important for documents that undergo a lot of revision and redrafting and also important if you are working on a collaborative document with a number of contributors.

Further Resources

For more detail on version control (including an in-depth version control table example), see the UK Data Archive’s page


There are a variety of version control strategies that you can use to keep track of the correct version of your data, e.g.:

  • Use a unique file name with a date or version number, for example:
    • 2011_08_23_Image3 or Image3_1.2


  • Use a version control table or file history alongside the data file to provide more details of changes to the file, for example:
File Name / Version
Changes to File
Last Amended
Original document
Minor revisions made
Further minor revisions
Substantive changes

Version Control Software

  • Use version control software such as TortoiseSVN 
  • Use software to control the rights regarding who can edit files and who has “read only” permission
  • Protect final versions by applying a read-only tag in the properties of a document.
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