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Archiving and sharing data: Choosing an archive

Guide on archiving research data and making your data available to other researchers

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On this page you can find out about the benefits of archiving your data, choosing which data to archive, and find links to funder-recommended archives, archives preferred by some journals, information on finding an archive and assessing it's suitability and guidance on registering your dataset in Pure. There is also guidance on archiving non-digital data and archiving collaborative data. 

Benefits of archiving data

Archiving research data means submitting it to a data centre, archive or repository where it will be protected in the long term against loss, deterioration, unauthorised or inappropriate access, and future incompatibility. Archiving is a necessary first step towards data sharing, but it is still important to archive data even if you do not plan to share them with others.

Benefits of archiving your data include: 

  • Your research data will be stored safely and securely in the long-term: you can't keep your data on the University-Managed servers indefinitely. 
  • When you archive your data in a data archive or repository you will get a persistent identifier, such as a Digitial Object Identifier (DOI) for your dataset which means that you can share your data in a robust way. Your data will also be discoverable in a variety of search engines. 
  • By archiving your data you will be complying with University and funder data policies. 
  • Once your data are uploaded to a data archive or repository the administrators of that archive are responsible for managing your data and can manage access to your data on your behalf, if you would like them to. 

Choosing which data to archive

It might seem safest to keep all of the data that you generate during the course of your project, but if you do this you may end up with problems. For example, temporary and intermediate processing files can clutter up your file system and get in the way of important data by making it harder to find the files that you actually want to use. Additionally,  without robust version control, you might end up using older versions of files by mistake. Additionally, if you are generating large quantities of data you run the risk of exceeding the limits of your storage devices. There can be substantial costs associated with buying additional space, so look carefully to see if you need to keep all of your files or whether you can delete some of them.

In general you should keep: 

  • All data underpinning publications
  • Data that cannot be easily reproduced, or would be too expensive to reproduce
  • Data that are of potential future importance to your research field
  • Data that are re-used regularly by your group or in your field
  • Data that must be stored for policy, legal or contractual reason

The table in our Weeding Data guide provides some examples of data that you might choose to keep and which you might choose to delete. 

Guidance on choosing a data archive (repository)

The ESRC and NERC have specific registries that grant holders must use to preserve their data at the end of their project.

Some journals require that data underlying submissions should be archived, and specify one or more archives that they consider acceptable. If you want to submit your data to the University of Bath Research Data Archive this might be possible for these specific journals. If you would like to discuss this with us contact us for advice: research-data@bath.ac.uk.

The following resources and databases can be used to identify a subject-specific data repository or archive. 

If you are planning to preserve your data in an external archive the following features are indicators of a reliable and good quality data archive or repository: 

 

Subject Focus The subject focus of the archive is suitable for your dataset
Reputation The archive has a good reputation and is recommended by your funder or journal
Metadata The archive requires you to enter detailed information about your dataset and upload documentation
Persistent identifier The archive will issue you with a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or accession number for your dataset
Access restrictions The archive allows you to embargo or restrict access to your dataset if you need to for confidentiality purposes
Intellectual Property Avoid using archives that require you to transfer rights to the data
Licences There are a range of licences for your data that comply with the University's Research Data Policy
Funding The archive is well funded and is likely to still be in operation in 10 years

 

For more guidance, see the Digital Curation Centre's 'Where to keep your research data' checklist (external website). 

For advice on the suitability of a given archive contact the Library's Research Data Service

Each archive will have it's own processes for deposting data. 

Once you have deposited your data, you should create or update the record for the dataset in Pure. In the section 'Data availability' provide the name of the archive you used as a publisher, and if your dataset has been assigned a DOI, enter it in the appropriate place. 

You can link records held in the University of Bath Research Data Archive to those held in external archives, if they are related to each other, or are from the same project. 

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Archiving collaborative data

If you are collaborating with other within the University it is possible for you all to be involved in the archival process. If you are working with external collaborators, we recommend that the lead organisation should take responsibility for co-ordinating data archiving, either in a single repository, or in multiple repositories where the data records can be linked together. 

  • The lead researcher should register the datasets in Pure.
  • Let us know the University of Bath usernames for the collaborators who should have access to the dataset record, and when we set up the data record in the University of Bath Research Data Archive, we will ensure that you can all edit the information and upload files. 

Archiving non-digital data

Just as with digital data, you must register any non-digital data that underlie your published findings in Pure. The same principles for selecting which non-digital data to archive apply to non-digital data as to digital data. Where you have both non-digital and digital versions of data you should normally retain the non-digital original as the version of record. If, however, you have digitised your data according to documented procedure, performed systematic quality control. and can back this up with a log of who did what and when, you can retain the digital copy and dispose of the non-digital original. 

A limited amount of space is available in the University Records Centre for storing non-digital data. When depositing materials, you will need to pack them in an archival standard box or boxes and sign a records transfer form for each box. For more information contact the University Records Manager. 

When registering non-digital data in Pure, under 'Data availability' fill out the section marked 'locally-held data'.