Research data repositories

Digital Research data is best preserved and published using a research data repository. A repository is an online database service, an archive that manages the long-term storage and preservation of digital resources and provides a catalogue for discovery and access. Some funders provide data centres to preserve and publish research data from the projects they fund. If a repository is not specified by the funder, there are many discipline based data repositories established by research communities, where data may be deposited. Some journal publishers specify repositories in which data, code and supplementary materials may be deposited.

Most data repositories do not charge to deposit research data, though many require registration. Not all data repositories allow open access to their content. Some repositories are subscription services, many require registration of users, and most have access embargo arrangements, preventing access to data, at least until after publication of research articles. Similar arrangements may restrict access to sensitive data. Data repositories are of course the best source for published research data.

Choosing a repository

Choosing a repository
The best repository to choose for your research data will be a national data centre or discipline specialist repository, because they have the expertise and resources to deal with particular types of data.
Data Centres and portals:

Registries of research data repositories:

  • Re3Data provides a searchable directory of research data repositories.
  • Research Pipeline is a guide to the world's free data
  • a curated, searchable portal of data standards, databases and policies in the life, environmental and biomedical sciences.

There are many discipline specific repositories available, whilst some are multi-disciplinary such as:

Research funder recommendations
  • AHRC - Significant electronic resources or datasets must be made available in an accessible depository for at least three years after the end of the grant.
  • BBSRC list of data sharing resources - The BBSRC does not run its own data centre but provides examples of existing databases and public repositories that it supports in its data policy.
  • ESRC - Data can be deposited with the ESRC data service provider (currently UK Data Service), or an appropriate responsible digital repository, provided certain criteria (FAIR principles) are met.
  • EPSRC - a domain or publisher-specific repository that commits to the continued accessibility of retained data, with ‘legal safeguards’.
  • MRC - Studies may share their data by archiving their data collection (or a subset) at a discipline-based repository, for instance the UK Data Archive, or at an institutional repository that can preserve the data and make them available to users.
  • NERC - Researchers are expected to offer data for deposit in the NERC-funded data centre relevant to their subject or discipline.
  • STFC - Would normally expect data to be managed through an institutional repository, e.g. as operated by a research organisation (such as STFC), a university, a laboratory or an independently managed subject specific database.
  • CRUK - Data can be shared under the auspices of the Principal Investigator, through a third party (a data archive facility), using a data enclave or through a combination of these methods.
  • Wellcome Trust guidance on data repositories - Researchers should deposit data in recognised data repositories where these exist for particular data types, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
Selected publisher recommendations

ORDA is the University of Sheffield research data registry and repository. Publish and preserve your data using ORDA when no other repository is suitable. Register your data with ORDA if your data is published elsewhere.

For help in choosing a research data repository, see the DCC guide ‘Where to keep research data

If you refer to or reuse data published in a repository, this will need to be cited correctly. For more information, see Citation and credit.

For further information, please contact