Version control and authenticity

It is important to ensure that different copies or versions of files, files held in different formats or locations, and information that is cross-referenced between files are all subject to version control.

Version control strategy

It can be difficult to locate a correct version or to know how versions differ after some time has elapsed. A suitable version control strategy depends on whether files are used by single or multiple users, in one or multiple locations, and whether versions across users or locations need to be synchronised or not, so that if information in one location is altered, the related information in other locations is also updated.

It is best practice to implement the following actions:

  • Decide how many versions of a file to keep, which versions to keep, for how long and how to organise versions.
  • Identify milestone versions to keep, e.g. Major versions rather than minor versions (keep version 02-00 but not 02-01).
  • Uniquely identify different versions of files using a systematic naming convention, such as using version numbers or dates.
  • Record changes made to a file when a new version is created.
  • Record relationships between items where needed, for example, between code and the data file it is run against; between data file and related documentation or metadata; or between multiple files.
  • Track the location of files if they are stored in a variety of locations.
  • Regularly synchronise files in different locations, such as using MS SyncToy software.
  • Identify a single location for the storage of milestone and master versions.

Version control can be done through the following

  • The date recorded in the file name or within the file, for example, HealthTest-2008-04-06.
  • Version numbering in the file name, for example, HealthTest-00-02 or HealthTest_v2.
  • A file history, version control table or notes included within a file, where versions, dates, authors and details of changes to the file are recorded.
  • Version control facilities within the software used.
  • Using versioning software, e.g. Subversion.
  • Using file-sharing services, such as Dropbox or Google Docs.
  • Controlling rights to file-editing.
  • Manual merging of entries or edits by multiple users.

Version numbering in file names can be through discrete or continuous numbering depending on minor or major revisions.


Filename Changes to file
Interviewschedule_1.0 Original document
Interviewschedule_1.1 Minor revisions made
Interviewschedule_1.2 Further minor revisions
Interviewschedule_2.0 Substantive changes

Example version control table:

Document Control

Title: COVID-19 PCR tests in Essex schools
File Name: PCRResultsEssex_00_05
Description: Results data of 180 COVID-19 PCR tests carried out in 2 schools in January 2021
Created By: Chris Wilkinsir
Maintained By: Sally Watsley
Created: 11/01/2021
Last Modified: 30/03/2021
Based on: PCRDatabaseDesignEssex_03_00

Version History

Version Responsible Notes Last amended
00_05 Vani Yussun Entries checked by VY, independent from SK 30/03/2021
00_04 Steve Knights Entries checked by SK 12/03/2021
00_03 Karin Millys Test results 121-180 entered 25/02/2021
00_02 Karin Millys Test results 61-120 entered 05/02/2021
00_01 Karin Millys Test results 1-60 entered 11/01/2021