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Research Commons

A space and place for those seeking help with research-related needs.

Access & Sharing

Why should you share your research data?

  • To fulfill funder and journal requirements. Increasingly, sharing research data is required by funding agencies and some journals.
  • To raise interest in publications. One study found a 69% increase in citations for articles whose associated data were available online.
  • To speed research. Data sharing can often accelerate discovery rates, especially with medical and epidemiology research.


  • How will you share the data (e.g., deposit into a data repository), handle data request directly (difficult long-term)?  It depends on type, size, complexity, & sensitivity of your data
  • When will you make the data available?
  • Who will be able to use your data?
  • Can your data be used/reused in other contexts?
  • Consider strategies to  minimize restrictions on sharing: anonymizing or aggregating data, gaining participant consent for data sharing
  • How long will the data be retained?
  • Where will it be archived?
    • Are additional resources needed to prepare the data for deposit?  What about fees from data repositories?

Archiving & Preservation: Data Repositories

Preserving digital data is more complex than just saving it on a hard drive or a server, and much more complex than storing paper copies. Digital data can often degrade faster, as computer and software systems update. It is smart to submit your final data to a trusted repository that is equipped to effectively preserve your data, and funders will likely ask you for details about your plan for preserving or archiving your data.

What data should be preserved?

It’s rarely likely that you’ll need to preserve all of the data created over the course of a research project. Rather, you’ll want to prioritize preserving data that cannot be re-created or produced, data that is costly to reproduce, data of one-time events, experimental data, etc. You’ll need to preserve data that is needed to validate your research findings, in accordance with funding agency requirements.

How long is “long-term” preservation?

Many funders want a DMP to include a plan for “long-term preservation” without specifying how far into the future data needs to be preserved. It can be easier to provide a minimum amount of time that you plan on preserving your data than a maximum: a good rule of thumb to follow when determining a minimum amount of time is to consider the amount of time it takes for a paper to be cited and then to add 5 years. Always make sure that the time period that you commit to is acceptable to your peers and follows the funding agency’s requirements. Institutions, publishers, and repositories may have a minimum retention period to follow, as well.

  • Data will be kept for at least 10 years. After this time, the data may be subject to deletion if it has not been reused, accessed, or cited.
  • Data will be available for the longevity of the repository, as it will be deposited to Dryad, which is part of the DataOne network, a group committed to long-term preservation and access.

Who Is Responsible for Preserving Data?

The most responsible and reliable way to preserve your data is to seek out a data custodian, like a data repository. When possible, you should deposit your data in a repository that provides curation services, rather than just preservation services. Curated data is more valuable, easier to locate and reuse, and more highly cited. Curation activities include verifying the integrity and quality of data, migrating data formats, and creating descriptive records for data.

Courtesy UW-Madison

Where to keep research data: a DCC checklist for evaluating data repositories

Data Sharing Requirements by Federal Agency