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Data Services: Data Repositories

Data Repository?

What is a data repository? A research data repository is a virtual place to store and preserve research data.  Data repositories also make data sets from research available for use and further study.  A data repository can focus on general collections of data from various subjects, or it can be discipline-specific with data from select subjects or areas of research.  Like other types of collections, a data repository may limit the data in their collections to those from research done within their institution or organization (also known as institutional data repositories) or only may accept data collections that fall within their area of practice.

Why post data in a repository?  Many researchers deposit their data in repositories for sharing and preservation purposes.  Some publishers (e.g., Nature) or grant funders require the sharing of research data.  Sharing data through repositories also have the same benefits as sharing articles and publications: the work is easily discoverable, resulting in more views, citations, and impact.

Chosing a Data Repository

Things to consider when choosing a data repository:

Suitability and Reliability
Is the repository a good fit for your data? What type of data is it and who do you want to find it? Is the repository a reputable source? Check to see if it is endorsed by a funding agency, scholarly journal, professional society, or library, or if it is listed in the Registry of Research Data Repositories

Visibility and Preservation
You’ll want to ensure the depository you select will be providing access to your data for well over 5 years, make sure that the repository has a plan for long-term viability and data governance.  Ensure your data repository offers a DOI (digital object identifier), handle, or another unique identifier. and also obtain a unique identifier that others can use to cite your data, this will increase the visibility of your data within the scholarly literature and allows researchers to find it later on. 

Most data repositories are able to handle most formats; however, this doesn’t always guarantee that they’ll be able to work with your data. Be sure to take a look at the repository's documentation to ensure they can store the data you’ve generated. 

Know your rights! Take time out to read the terms of use and to understand what permissions you’re giving the data repository. For instance, does your data repository use common licensing agreements (again, like Creative Commons) that will help others understand what they can and cannot do with your data?

Attribution: Parts of this text is taken from

Data Respositories

Finding, listing, and keeping up with all the repositories in existence is best done by directories. A few we recommend:

  • The Registry of Research Repositories is a service provided by DataCite (a global non-profit that provides DOIs - Digital Object Identifiers). With over 1,500 data repositories listed, is likely to have a repository in your discipline.
  • OpenDOAR: OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories) is a curated and authoritative list of academic open access repositories. Not only do staff of OpenDOAR visit each repository listed but they also review each repository for quality (a pretty big task considering they have 2,600 listings). Included in OpenDOAR are datasets, articles, books, and software.
  • Simmons College hosts the Open Access Directory’s list of Data Repositories. The Open Access Directory is maintained by the Open Access community and an editorial board. It includes repositories ranging from archaeology to physics.




Example Repositories

A few examples of data repositories are:

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