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Data storage occurs throughout the research process. Short-term storage of data during the active data collection phase of a research project or ephemeral storage of backup copies of data during sequential steps of data analysis may be accomplished on local computer drives or in a networked environment. Long-term storage or archiving of final data products is more likely to occur in a networked environment or in off-site repositories. All of these storage decisions and steps are an important part of the research process and the data management lifecycle.
There are many discipline-specific archives or repositories available to researchers. Depositing research data in these specific repositories may be required by certain publishers or funding agencies. Additionally, UNLV researchers have two unique resources for their consideration: an institutional repository for publications and data, as well as a national supercomputing center.
Questions Before Depositing Your Data
When choosing a repository for your data, there are a few questions you want to keep in mind.
How large are your data files? Certain repositories can only accommodate projects up to a certain size.
Are your data files in an open format (i.e. .csv instead of .xsls, .pdf instead of .docx)? File formats evolve over time. While some formats are free to use, others, such as Microsoft Word or Excel require accounts or subscriptions. Distributing your data in open formats ensures that more people will be able to access your research.
What information do you need to provide for others so your data is reuseable? Data repositories will ask for some form of documentation, such as README.txt files, which detail information and processes that enable researchers to replicate and reuse data.
If you are working with sensitive data, has your data been de-identified enough to allow for sharing, or does your data need restricted access? Repositories will have different capabilities in terms of data sharing. Repositories such as the social science repository ICPSR, offer different options regarding data confidentiality and restricted use.
Does your data need to be embargoed (delaying publication until a specified time) or can it be released immediately to the public?
How would you like to license your data? While datasets cannot be copyrighted, they can be licensed, so it's important to know how you would like your data to be reused. While CC-0 allows data to be reused in the most open fashion, some researchers prefer to use CC-BY, which requires attribution to the creator.
For any questions related to choosing a repository, please contact the Data Librarian.
re3data.org is a tool for helping people identify and locate online repositories of research data. Users and bibliographers create and curate records that describe data repositories that users can search. re3data.org is maintained by an international group of data managers and librarians, and mereged with Databib in 2015.
The NNLM Resources for Data-Driven Discovery database serves as a resource for librarians, library students, information professionals, and interested individuals to learn about and discuss: library roles in data science; fundamentals of domain sciences; emerging trends in supporting biomedical research.
This checklist, produced by the DCC (Digital Curation Centre) is concerned with external third-party repositories that offer a managed service to the research community. It aims to assist research support staff whose task is to help researchers make informed choices about where to deposit data.
Select Data Repository Options for UNLV Researchers
The National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment can store large or small datasets securely during the data collection, analysis, and/or archive phases of your research project. At the direction of the researcher, all or a portion of the data may be publicly shared.
The Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) is a dedicated archive for storing and sharing digital data (and accompanying documentation) generated or collected through qualitative and multi-method research in the social sciences and related disciplines.