Preparing research data for deposit

After selecting research data for preservation and sharing, the following points should be addressed to ensure that your data is ready to be submitted to ORDA or any other research data repository.

For more information, expand each section below:

1. Plan & policy - Check your funder’s requirements and your data management plan

Check your funder’s data sharing requirements and your Data Management Plan.

2. Permission - Ensure you have permission to deposit the data and make it accessible

You must ensure that you own the intellectual property rights in the data, or have the permission of all other rights holders to make the data available. This will include permission from rights holders of third party material included in the dataset.

3. Access - Decide on access conditions - can these data be made openly accessible?

Decide whether your data can be shared openly, or require access restrictions. Does your data include confidential and sensitive information? Have participants given consent for their data being shared? Consider what can be done to make sensitive data openly sharable - can these data be anonymised? If different parts of your research data require different access conditions, separate them and deposit them separately, applying different access conditions. See Regulatory requirements for more information.

4. Files - Use open formats if possible. Choose meaningful filenames.

Choose open formats or commonly used file formats (to future proof your data files). Choose appropriate file and folder names. See Organising your data for advice.

5. Documentation - Prepare documentation to make your data understandable. Include a ‘readme.txt’ file. Choose a meaningful title.

Prepare documentation files to be included with data files. It is recommended that at the least, you include a ‘readme.txt’ file in the upper level folder, which includes:

an inventory of the files included in the dataset and the relationship between them;
details of software, operating system and any other dependencies required to make use of the data;
For tabular data - descriptions of column headings, row labels, data codes used, units of measurement and abbreviations used.

Alternatively, this essential information may be provided in the description field of the repository record when depositing the dataset.

You should aim to include further documents that provide the necessary information required to reuse the data. These may include research methods and protocols, lab notebook records, instrument guides, codebooks, survey questionnaires and sample consent forms. It may be more convenient to include these as .txt .pdf or .csv files accompanying the data files. See Describing your data for advice.

6. Code - Software code developed to generate or process the data should be submitted to a repository separately.

If software code has been developed to create or process research data, and is required in order to understand the data, or validate the research, then this should be independently deposited in ORDA and cross-referenced to the dataset.

7. Structure - Divide your data into meaningful units and create an appropriate folder structure.

Decide on folder structure for your research data - divide your data into meaningful units. If your dataset contains folders or contains many files, use a compression tool (.zip, .rar) to maintain folder structure, and to deposit in one upload. See Organising your data for advice.

8. Embargo - Decide on a temporary embargo period if required.

Decide whether an embargo period is required. You may place files under embargo until research findings have been published, though this period should not be for more than a year from deposit. Ask your funder to advise on temporary embargoes if necessary.

9. License - Decide on an appropriate reuse license

Decide on the appropriate reuse license for your data. See Regulatory requirements for more information.

10. Repository - Choose a suitable data repository to submit your data to

Submit your research data to a research data repository. To deposit research data in ORDA, the University of Sheffield research data repository, see ‘Registering, Uploading and Publishing a Dataset using ORDA’. To find another suitable repository see ‘Data repositories’.

Download a guide on preparing data for deposit (PDF, 164 KB)

For further information, please contact