Yes, it really is one year since the University’s Research Data Archive was launched, on 7 September 2015. This is an apt moment to reflect on our first year of service and the outlook for the future.
What is the Archive?
The Research Data Archive is a multidisciplinary service for the registration, preservation and sharing of research data created at the University of Reading.
Who is it for?
Any researcher employed by the University or postgraduate student is eligible to deposit and publish data in the Archive.
What does it do?
Using the Archive you can:
- Create and publish a citeable online metadata record for a dataset;
- Generate a unique permanent Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for your dataset, for reliable citation and linking;
- Deposit data files and related documentation for long-term preservation and access;
- License your data to specify how they can be used.
Here is an example of a dataset published in the Archive: http://dx.doi.org/10.17864/1947.48.
More information and instructions for depositing data can be found on the Archive webpage.
Why use the Archive?
Where original data have been generated in your research and they support published outputs and/or may have long-term value for re-use by others, they should be preserved and made openly available wherever possible. By doing this you will ensure that you comply with relevant institutional and funders’ research data policies.
There are various data services that support specific communities, e.g. the NERC data centres, the Archaeology Data Service, and the molecular databases of the European Bioinformatics Institute. There are also general public data sharing services, such as figshare and Zenodo. You can search for data repositories at re3data.org.
But community and public repositories may not always exist or be suitable for all types and sizes of data. The University’s Archive is there to guarantee that data produced by our researchers and in need of a home will always have somewhere to live.
The story so far
To date 24 datasets have been archived and published, ranging in size from a few Kb to about 20 Gb. Datasets have been created by members of staff and research students from a variety of research areas, mostly in the Sciences, as may be expected, but also in some Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines.
24 datasets in one year may not seem like much, but I bear in mind that the Archive is a new service which needs time to become established. Many researchers will be preserving and sharing data using other services, or by making supplementary information available on publishers’ websites alongside their articles.
Undoubtedly opportunities are being missed, for the simple reason that in many areas data sharing and preservation are not yet widely integrated into research practice, and awareness of relevant policies and services may be low. It is a challenge for me as the University’s Research Data Manager to raise awareness in the University community and get researchers to realise the benefits of using the Archive. This should keep me employed for a few years yet.
But I think we have made a good start in this first year which has allowed us to build experience in managing a data service, and to test and refine a robust set of service policies and practical guidance.
What does the future hold?
I will continue to develop the Archive to make it easier for you to deposit and publish your research data. In particular I look forward to introducing new file transfer functionality that will enable us to handle much larger and more complex datasets with greater efficiency. Coming soon: watch this space!