Library Services


About the repository

Digital Collections is home to the Library's digitised materials. The service can also offer support for researchers looking for a method of disseminating research data, or long-term preservation.

If you are looking for a home for your research data, or if you are working with digitised material, please get in touch. Our Research Data Management pages also offer guidance, advice and case studies. 

Detailed advice for depositors to the Digital Collections Service can be found below; please contact us if you have any queries.

Search the repository

You can perform a simple search, advanced search or browse our collections via the Digital Collections home page.

Contact us

  • Steve Wright, Digitisation Manager, for enquiries about the repository
  • Contact the Research Data team for general enquiries about Research Data Management.

Information for depositors



The Digital Collections repository is for the dissemination and long-term preservation of research data and digitised materials.

The repository holds collections of materials with accompanying metadata and contextualising documents. There is no restriction by subject area.

The repository includes data of all types: observations, longitudinal primary research data, derived data, reference data and accompanying materials.

File formats

Preferred file formats are non-proprietary, well-documented and widely adopted. The content owner should discuss their requirements with the Digital Curation team in order to decide whether format normalisation is required, and agree on the appropriate format for deposited data.

You can refer to the Research Data Management guide to choosing file formats for more advice.

Volume and size limitations

Large datasets (for example those consisting mainly of video files or image stacks) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Charges may apply for particularly large datasets.


Types and sources

There are two kinds of metadata records: collection and descriptive.

Each collection or dataset has one collection record. These should be prepared to Datacite standards.

Each item within a collection has one descriptive record. This can be customised to meet the particular needs of each collection's users. You should discuss your needs with the Digital Curation team to agree on an appropriate set of fields.

You can look at an example of collection and descriptive metadata, or find out more about metadata in this guide.

Access and reuse of metadata

All descriptive metadata is publicly visible and searchable for items at all tiers of access.

Metadata is shared with other repositories using OAI-PMH. All metadata is copyright UCL and made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence.

For more information on citing metadata, see the citation guide.

Submission (Ingest)

Eligible depositors

Collections must be deposited by a UCL staff member. Collections belonging to external owners must be sponsored by a UCL staff member.

Data quality

The depositor is responsible for the quality of the data. Depositors should work with the Digital Curation team to assure that accompanying descriptive metadata is of high quality.

Confidentiality and disclosure

The depositor is responsible for ensuring that the data they deposit is cleared by the appropriate ethical bodies.

Rights and ownership

The depositor should hold copyright over the data or be otherwise empowered to grant permission to include the data in the repository. 

Access and Reuse

Access to data

There are three tiers of access: Open, Controlled and Restricted. Access arrangements can be implemented at an item level, and collections can contain a mixture of open, controlled and restricted items if appropriate. Collection and descriptive metadata is publicly visible and searchable for items at all tiers of access.

  1. Open access. The majority of collections in the repository are open access. These items are available to view or download (depending on file type) with no login required. Open Access items are governed by Creative Commons licences. You can find more information on Creative Commons or read more about UCL's Open Access mandate.
  2. Controlled access. Items are restricted to UCL staff and student logins, or restricted to the UCL campus. For example, the Exam Papers and staff and student newsletter archives are controlled access collections.
  3. Restricted access. Items are restricted to named users. The responsibility for establishing the credentials of named users will rest with the content owner. Descriptive metadata for restricted items is still publicly visible and searchable, and so should be anonymised. You can see advice on anonymising data in the guide to handling personal and sensitive information.

Users can view or download objects depending on file format. If you require items to be accessed in a particular way, please discuss your needs with the Digital Curation team.

Use and reuse of data

Creative Commons licences are preferred for open access items, in line with UCL's Research Data Policy.

The Repository provides guidance and documentation on how to cite collections and objects from the repository.

Usage statistics

Usage statistics are maintained on a monthly basis. Audit trails for access to controlled and restricted items can be provided.


Data storage

The contents of the Digital Collections repository are stored on UCL Library servers on campus, backed up in UCL's offsite data centre.


Retention periods will comply with funders' requirements and with the UCL Records Office retention schedule.

File preservation

Open, archival standard formats are recommended for preservation purposes. See the file formats guide for further information. 

Archival copies will be migrated and new dissemination copies will be produced according to best practice.

Fixity and authenticity

Fixity will be verified on deposit and as part of normal maintenance routines. 

Please note that explicit hyperlinks within documents (for example links to third-party websites within a PDF) cannot be guaranteed except in instances where linked data conventions are employed.

Withdrawal and Succession

Metadata for withdrawn items will remain visible. See our takedown policy for more information.

Compliance with Funders' Requirements

Please contact the Digital Curation Team or the Research Data Support Officer to discuss your funders' requirements and to establish whether the Digital Collections repository is an appropriate home for your research data. 

You can find more information about funders' requirements in this list of policies.

Policies and strategy

The Digital Collections service operates with reference to the following UCL policies and strategies: