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Research data management: Repositories

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

Data Repositories

Data repositories are useful for finding data to reuse for research, or archive your own data for the long-term.

Data can be deposited in one or more data repositories. It is not uncommon for the repository to only include the metadata for the data with directions for how to request access to the data. 

You may need to deposit your data to a repository for the following reasons:

  • Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • On submission of publication to journal eg Nature Group
  • Need to be accessed and cited in the long term
  • Long-term preservation
  • Funding requirement in some countries

Types of data repositories

Domain - examples: GenBank, Dryad, TreeBase

What to think about before depositing data.

  • Your data will be stored with similar data
  • Researchers will find your data easily
  • Repository staff understand your kind of data
  • The repository may offer computational tools to crunch or visualise your data
  • But repositories may close down if funding ends

Institutional - examples: University-based data/metadata repositories for UQ staff UQeSpace (conditions apply)  - Organisational repository CSIRO's  Data Access Portal

What to think about before depositing data.

  • Repositories are backed by institutions
  • Different types of datasets can be stored together, regardless of discipline
  • Institutions generally guarantee support
  • Conditions may apply on size etc check with your institutional repository
  • Data can link to publications related to the data
  • But not all research institutions have central data repositories


Evaluating a Repository for your Data

When selecting a suitable repository for your research data, it is important to evaluate that repository before you submit any data.

There are several factors to consider:

  • How is the repository sustained? Is there ongoing funding? Is this a recently established repository or has it been around for a while?
  • Is there evidence of an explicit institutional commitment to preservation?
  • What is the repository's preservation policy or plan?
  • Who is the audience for the repository?
  • Is it generalist or subject specific?
  • Licensing and access arrangements?
  • Does it have appropriate metadata elements and ensure discoverability of data?
  • Does it allow re-use of data, and data citation?
  • Has the repository worked to ensure compliance with OAIS Reference Model (this may also be referred to as the Trusted Repository Audit & Checklist (TRAC) or ISO 16363)?

If you have questions about a repository and whether they are a suitable home for your research data, contact them and discuss your needs.  Thomson Reuters also publishes information on evaluating data repositories.

Registries of data repositories

To find a research data repository, searchable directories are available:

Data Journals

Data journals are emerging as another channel for researchers to publish their research outputs, including data. Data journals are publications whose main aim is to expose datasets more widely, and allow researchers to share their research data outputs. Some examples are listed below.

Scientifc Data (Nature)

Biodiversity Data Journal

GeoScience Data Journal

Data in Brief (Elsevier)

Journal of Open Archeology Data

Open Health Data

Earth System Science Data

Journal of Open Psychology

Journal of Physical and Chemical Research Data

Journal of Open Research Software