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Research data management: Archiving

Research data management covers the planning, collecting, organising, managing, storage, security, backing up, preserving, and sharing your data.


What does 'archiving' mean?

Archiving can have several meanings:

  • Backing up data
  • Storing data somewhere safe
  • Preserving data for a specified period
  • Keeping data in perpetuity
  • Migrating data to newer formats
  • Providing an emulator so that data in older formats, or that needs obsolete software to be understood, can still be used

Archiving research data means storing your data in a system or service where it will be:

  • Safely stored
  • Backed up regularly
  • Discoverable
  • Preserved for the future
  • Made available to others for re-use, if possible

A data repository is probably the ideal place to archive your data.

Archiving for data re-use

Advantages of respository archiving

  • The deposit process creates useful metadata to describe your data
  • Repositories assign unique identifiers to data, e.g. DOIs or Handles
  • They aim to preserve data long term
  • They simplify data sharing
  • They facilitate data citation
  • Some repositories provide tools so researchers can interact with your data

To preserve data successfully

  • Provide thorough documentation about your data
  • Preserve a copy of any software required to create, manipulate or render your data
  • Migrate your data to up-to-date formats when necessary


Things to check over time

  • Is the data unchanged?
  • Can data still be read and used?
  • Is the metadata still there?
  • Are the formats still usable?
  • Is the software still available?
  • Can programs still be run?
  • Is data still in the right place?