Data Management

Identifying Repositories For Your Data

There are hundreds of interdisciplinary and discipline-specific repositories that accept data. Researchers unsure of the best repository for their data should consult one of the directories below.

By Fleshas [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Selecting A Repository

Researchers may preserve and share their data by depositing some or all of it in a data repository. In addition to making data available to other researchers, utilizing a data repository allows the researcher to rely on the data management expertise of those who maintain the repository.

When selecting a repository, researchers should ask themselves:

  • What are the requirements of the funding agency and the institution?
    Some funding agencies and institutions may require researchers to share data in certain repositories or may stipulate requirements for depositing data.

  • Are there issues about intellectual property, or privacy to consider?
    Identifying data about people needs to be anonymized. While some repositories will assist with this process, others leave the responsibility with the researcher. Also, researchers who want to limit who can use their data or when their data will be available should check a repository's options for embargoes and restricted access.
  • Who will have access to the data?
    Some repositories limit access to their data to members, while others make sure all data are available to the public. Data depositors should also consider how their data might be discovered by users, such as through Google searches.

  • What are the repository's technical requirements?
    Repositories may limit the types of data they archive as well as they amount they can accept. They may also require specific meta-data fields for all their collections.

  • What are the repositories administrative requirements?
    Most repositories provide information about their policies and procedures. For example, a repository may restrict who can deposit with them or it may charge an annual fee to manage and store data. Researchers should learn how the repository is administered to ensure that it meets any institutional or agency requirements.

  • How stable and secure is the repository?
    Some repositories are more reliable than others. Researchers should consider who is responsible for the repository, and what plans are in place to ensure data is available in the future.
    Repositories should have plans for securing and backing up data and for migrating data to new formats as technologies evolve.

(From Choosing a Data Repository - Data Management Plans - Western Carolina University Library)

Data Sharing Concerns


Data that is made public should not contain any information that can identify participants. Funding agencies and institutional review boards often have strict policies about safeguarding the personal information of study participants.

For a discussion of privacy and confidentiality issues, visit the ICPSR's Confidentiality page.

Embargoes/Restricted Access

Many scholars are reluctant to share their data. Some want to ensure that they can benefit from their research before making their data available to other researchers. Other scholars want to limit who can use their data and for what purpose.

Data embargoes are policies that allow researchers to submit their data to repositories but not release it for public use until a later date.

Restricted access policies limit who can  access and use data based on factors such as the user's institutional affiliation or the intent of the use of the data (scholarly as opposed to commercial). A restricted access policy may also be necessary if some human subject data cannot be anonymized or if a non-disclosure agreement with funders or other interested parties is in place.

Intellectual Property

Copyright is a bundle of rights regarding the use, reproduction, and public performance of materials.

Just about everything is copyrighted as soon as it is in fixed form, including images, videos, photographs, and audiorecordings.

An exception in the copyright law relates to data. Uninterpreted data is not copyright protected. However, expression of the data in a chart, table, or other form, is copyright protected.

The intellectual property issues surrounding data include much more than copyright. Nancy Sims, Copyright Lawyer and Librarian at the University of Minnesota, made "Making Decisions About Your Research," a brief video where she discusses legal ownership, legal and other formal agreements, and personal relationships that affect scholars' rights regarding their data.