Find a data repository
A growing number of funders expect research data with acknowledged long-term value to be preserved and remain accessible and usable for future research.
Digital data are best preserved and published in a data repository. A repository is an online database service that archives and manages the long-term storage of digital resources. The University of Exeter has an institutional repository, Open Research Exeter (ORE), where research data can be securely preserved for the long-term. Data deposited into ORE are highly discoverable and will be actively curated, which may involve changing the format of the data to ensure long-term accessibility and re-usability.
Before depositing your data to ORE, you should check your funder requirements to determine if they require you to deposit your data into a particular repository. Some funders, such as NERC and ESRC, have set up data centres to curate, disseminate, and preserve data created as part of their funded programmes. In these cases, researchers are expected to deposit their data into the designated data centre.
Some data repositories may charge for hosting your data, in which case you should incorporate this cost into your funding bid. You should also ensure that you document your data according to the repository's guidelines throughout your research project.
There are a number of advantages to using a data repository or archive for the log-term preservation of your data:
- You don’t have to preserve the data yourself.
- You don’t have to worry about accidentally deleting the data or the data becoming corrupted.
- Repositories offer a search functionality that helps to ensure your data are findable.
- Repositories provide a persistent identifier (such as a Digital Object Identifier) that enables you and others to cite your datasets in published work.
How to preserve your research data?
Choosing a data repository
The University of Exeter's institutional repository, ORE, will accept data from any research project undertaken at the University, but sometimes it may be more appropriate to deposit your data into an external repository, data archive or data centre.
As a first step, you should check if your funder places a requirement on you to use a particular repository:
- ESRC grant holders should offer their data to the UK Data Service.
- NERC grant holders should offer their data to the most appropriate of the NERC data centres.
Some journals require that data underlying submissions should be archived, and specify one or more archives they consider acceptable, while others recommend a range of repositories:
- Several journals have an agreement with the Dryad repository for data underlying their articles.
- Scientific Data (Nature) provide a list of recommended data repositories.
In the absence of recommendations from either your funder or journal, you can look up data repositories relevant to your discipline using the Registry of Research Data Repositories (re3data).
Assessing the suitability of an external data repository
If you are unsure whether an external data repository is a suitable long-term home for your data, consider the following questions:
- What type of data does the repository accept and what is its subject focus?
- Does the data repository already have a good reputation in your field and is it recommended by your funder or journal?
- Will the repository provide enough metadata to enable your data be discovered and cited by other researchers?
- Will the repository issue your data with a persistent identifier that you can include in your data access statement? A search for archives in re3data allows you to tick a box restricting results to those that provide persistent identifiers.
- Are access restrictions or embargoes permitted? Will the repository ensure that confidential or personal data are secured if that is required?
- Do the repository's terms and conditions fit with the University's Intellectual Property policy? For example, does the repository require that you assign any copyright in the data to them? We recommend avoiding using repositories that require transfer of rights.
- What licences are available and do they comply with the University's Research Data Policy?
- Is the repository established and well-funded, so that you can be confident it will still be in operation in ten years?
Registering your data in Symplectic
If you archive your data in a data centre or repository other than ORE, you should still register your data in Symplectic and include a link to where the data are available.
To do this you simply need to follow the steps in the Registering A Dataset In Symplectic Guide. Note that the dataset will require a separate Symplectic record to any associated journal article.