Sharing Data Publicly
Federal funding agencies are moving toward requiring researchers to make their data “as open as possible,” and many journals require that data underlying papers be released at the time of publication. This page describes how to use data repositories to share your research data openly.
Why Use a Data Repository?
There are many ways to make data publicly available. Repositories provide unique features that meet federal funding requirements, including:
- Unique identifiers allow your data to be easily cited by other researchers
- Retention policies that specify how long the data will be kept and what will happen to it if the repository no longer exists
- Licenses that specify what other researchers can do with your data and what requirements (like citation) they need to meet to use the data
- Standard documentation (metadata) formats that make your data findable by other researchers
- Quality assurance by trained curators that will make sure your submission is formatted correctly and has all the information needed to facilitate reuse.
See Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories for Federally Funded Research for more information.
Choosing a Data Repository
When choosing which repository to share your data, think about the following factors:
Does Your Data Contain Sensitive Data?
If so, consider a controlled access repository like Vivli for clinical data or ICPSR for political and social research data. For assistance with sharing sensitive data, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does Your Funding Agency or Journal Recommend a Specific Repository?
Does the Type of Data You Produce Have a Discipline-Specific Repository?
For example, all genomic data funded by NIH should be deposited in the National Center for Biological Information (NCBI) databases. If you are not sure, you can look for one in NIH's Repositories for Sharing Scientific Data, FAIRSharing Repository search or re3data. Note that not all of the repositories listed in these databases meet the Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories for Federally Funded Research issued by the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Open Science. If you need help deciding where to deposit your data, email email@example.com.
If these questions do not apply to your data, Northwestern University supports the options below to share research data publicly:
Note that the generalist repositories recommended here do not accept sensitive data. For assistance with sharing sensitive data, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dryad - Northwestern’s membership allows researchers to submit data at no cost. It accepts larger file sizes (10GB guideline per file and 300GB per submission). Data curators will vet your submission.
- Arch Institutional Repository accepts traditional research outputs like articles and small files for associated datasets. Submissions are self-deposited and not vetted by curators.
See the linked pages for requirements and restrictions to depositing data into these platforms.
If you would like advice on choosing a data repository, email email@example.com to consult with a data management specialists from Galter Health Sciences Library, Research Computing and Data Services, and Northwestern University Libraries.
Sharing Non-Data Research Products
A range of outputs are generated during research and sharing these resources helps support reproducible research and can enhance the impact of your work. If you need to share other digital products (e.g., presentations, posters, data dictionaries, maps or other visuals, recruitment or outreach materials, etc.), Northwestern University supports the following options to share these files publicly:
- Non-Feinberg Researchers: Arch Institutional Repository accepts traditional research outputs like articles and small files for associated datasets. Submissions are self-deposited and not vetted by curators.
- Feinberg Researchers: Prism, Feinberg’s institutional repository, promotes openness, maximizes reproducibility, and enhances research connections in the Feinberg community globally by preserving and sharing the intellectual works created by Feinberg researchers.