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Research Data Repository

Full guidance on using the Research Data Repository is available from UCL Library Services.

Access the Research Data Repository

Key features

CORE
  • Enables the preservation and curation of research data beyond the lifetime of a project.
  • Enables publication of research data, with a unique Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for citation.
  • Anyone can search the Repository for data with content indexed by major search engines.
  • Access to data can be embargoed prior to publication.
  • Enables compliance with UK Research Councils and other major funding bodies’ policies.
  • Specialist technical support and expert research data management advice available at Research Data Repository (email).
  • Currently available at no cost to researchers.

Overview

The Repository enables the publication, preservation, and curation of data underpinning published research or which is otherwise of value.

Most major research funding agencies now mandate that the data generated during research projects they pay for is preserved and made available to others (where appropriate) for periods of 10 years or more beyond the point of research publication or the end of a project. Even when preservation is not a requirement of funding, it may be beneficial to preserve and make available valuable data in order to:

  • Improve the reproducibility of your research findings
  • Receive credit via the citation of your data in future research
  • Ensure that your data can be re-used, re-analysed, or combined with other datasets in future, to contribute to the advancement of your field
  • Ensure you can locate and access the data yourself in the future, without having to actively manage it and maintain it.

UCL supports the principles of Open Science and FAIR data. The UCL Research Data Policy states that members of UCL should respect the principle that data should be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”.

Whilst the UCL Research Data Repository acts as general research data repository intended to serve any academic discipline, there are already specialist data repositories for many types of academic data. If there already exists a specialist data repository in you field, you should in most circumstances use that in preference to the UCL repository. The Re3data website lists most existing data repositories.

What is the relationship between the UCL Research Data Repository and Figshare?

We have awarded the contract for providing the Repository to Figshare, part of Digital Science. Figshare already run a popular commercial research data repository and have several years of experience in this field. The institutional version of their service keeps the intuitive interfaces, search, and visualization tools of the public version, whilst allowing for customizations and a copy of uploaded data and accompanying metadata to be taken. It also provides UCL with reporting tools. It interfaces with the Research Publications Service and UCL Discovery, so that data entered into the Repository does not need to be entered again into these other services. Unlike the public version of Figshare, the institutional version allows for records to be checked and edited by expert data managers in UCL Library and enables preservation and curation actions, so that data does not become inaccessible as formats become obsolete.

Whilst the technology underpinning the UCL Repository is provided at present by Figshare, the Repository itself is an independent service, designed for the long term. The underlying technologies may in the future be provided by other suppliers or even taken in-house, but the Repository and its content will remain owned and controlled by UCL.

Adding data

Researchers wishing to upload data to the Repository should go to RDR (link) and log in using their UCL credentials. There is a web form that needs to be completed to upload and/or publish data. This web form captures some basic information to ensure that the dataset can be discovered, accurately cited, and understood in future.

Whether or not the data itself is generally accessible, people should be able to find a record that the data exists and have a reasonable idea of what the data covers. It is possible to create a ‘metadata-only’ record for data that is too sensitive to upload to the Web.

Finding data

Published records in the UCL Research Data Repository may be search or browsed by anyone, not just members of UCL. They may also be found via UCL’s Discovery service and in the Research Publications Service. Records may be harvested by other repositories and general Web search engines, such as Google. The intention of the Repository is to make UCL’s published research as widely available as possible to both researchers and the general public.

Embargoing or restricting access to data

It may be necessary to keep data that should ultimately be made public under embargo for a period to maximise the potential for the researchers that produced it to publish their results. The timed embargo functionality will be in place from launch. Other forms of access restriction are being considered by the Repository team and will be implemented over the first couple of years of operation.

Publishing and citing data

When a dataset is published, it is assigned a licence dictating the terms of re-use and a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) enabling straightforward citation and the ability to track citations. This means that datasets or collections of datasets can be referenced in research publications, enabling researchers to gain credit for their data and a case to be made for its impact. This can also support the REF process, for instance by providing evidence of the impact that research is having.

Datasets may themselves be submitted for consideration by the REF in the same manner as more traditional articles and monographs.

A list of possible data licences to choose from is presented to researchers during the upload process. If a funder requires a licence that is not included in this list, please write to Research Data Repository (email). The UCL Research Data Policy recommends the use of the Creative Commons CC0 licence for datasets.

Linking data to associated publications, software code, and other datasets.

The metadata record for each dataset or collection will hold relationship information, enabling data to be linked to publications that reference it, to the software code that generated it, or to other datasets from which the data was selected, adapted, or so forth.

At present these links are recorded simply as relationship, but we will be enabling more accurate descriptions of the nature of any given relationship in due course.

Preserving data over the long term.

The repository will enable information professionals to help ensure data remains readable far into the future, via integrity checks, migrations between storage platforms, format migrations, and other curation activities.

Future developments

The Research Data Repository is not as yet certified to hold sensitive personal data such as non-anonymised patient data. UCL is currently in the process of upgrading the Data Safe Haven to host such data during the lifetime of a project, and looking to enhance the Research Data Repository to enable the longer-term storage of sensitive data.

We will also develop the Repository service further to enable easier movement of data into the Repository from the Research Data Storage Service; to enable more customizable metadata fields; and make other enhancements requested by the user community. If you have any particular suggestions for improvement, please get in touch with us at Research Data Repository (email).