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Research Data Management

Make informed choices for research data. RDM, policy, practical guidelines, software and tools at VU Amsterdam. FAIR data, archiving, storage, publication

Data archiving: mid- or long-term?

In the Data Management Plan the researcher describes if the data will be stored for the mid or the long term.
 
Mid-term archive: according to the VU RDM Policy, all publication-related data should be archived for at least ten years for verification and replication of research. For this purpose, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers researchers three options to store their data in one of the organisational repositories (DataverseNL, ArchStor or DarkStor). Other archival options may be used depending on the field of science as described in faculty data management policy documents.
 
Long-term archive: data relevant for future research should be archived for the long term. A dataset is relevant for future research when it complies with at least one of the following general criteria:
 
1. The data has a scientific or historical value
2. The data is unique
3. Others may want to reuse the data
4. The data cannot be reproduced
 
Researchers should bear in mind that when VU university archiving options are used, any costs involved in mid-term or long-term storage are covered by either the university or any other national or international archive that faculty policy prescribes they should use. Whatever archiving option is used, proper descriptions of the dataset(s) and adding metadata are important.

Deposit your data @VU Amsterdam

VU Amsterdam requests that researchers archive the data used in a publication in a repository for at least ten years after the release of the publication (see also VU Policies & Regulations). There are a lot of digital archives and many more keep appearing.

The right archival option depends on the nature of the data and the field of science as described in faculty or departmental data management policy documents. The university offers 3 different general repositories for data archiving.

The RDM Support Desk and faculty data stewards can help researchers with the selection of a repository that meets all the relevant criteria of privacy (sensitivity), dataset size, etc.

DataverseNL - an online platform for the publication of citable research data in a semi-open environment. DataverseNL allows users to link publications to datasets directly, and to share the data through online archives such as DANS.

Specifications:

  • For publishing research data on the internet
  • The researcher publishing the data decides whether access to the data is public or restricted
  • Not suitable for privacy or otherwise sensitive information
  • Enables researchers to publish open data according to grant providers' regulations
  • Generates a link (persistent identifier), e.g. for data citations in publications
  • Retention period is at least 10 years

ArchStor - a research data archive with a 10-year retention period. Data stored in ArchStor can only be accessed for verification purposes.

Specifications:

  • For archiving research data at the VU archive
  • Researchers can only access their data through an email request
  • Enables researchers to adhere to the VSNU Code of Conduct for Research Integrity with respect to verifiability of research
  • Not suitable for privacy sensitive information
  • No link (persistent identifier) available
  • Retention period is 10 years

Please contact the RDM Support Desk for questions about and for depositing data into ArchStor.

DarkStor - an offline archive for storing sensitive information/data. Information is considered sensitive when it involves matters like privacy or copyright. DarkStor is only suitable for datasets that require additional security. Once archived, access to the data can only be requested by authorized individuals i.e. the original researcher or a research coordinator.

Specifications:

  • For archiving data in a secured archive
  • Suitable for privacy sensitive information
  • Researchers can only access their data through an email request
  • Conform the security norm for data protection
  • No link (persistent identifier) available
  • Retention period is at least 10 years

Please contact the RDM Support Desk for questions about and for depositing data into DarkStor.

Choosing a different repository

Besides the repositories offered by the VU, there are many others. Unless you are working with personal or otherwise confidential data and you need to archive them in DarkStor, you are, in principle, free to choose a different repository from the ones hosted by the VU.

There can be various reasons to decide to use a different repository, including funder requirements, preferences of research partners, and a repository being a common choice in your field. For example, Dutch archaeologists mostly use DANS-EASY to deposit and publish their data. Using a repository that is a common choice in your field will make your data more findable for your colleagues and increase the visibility of your work as a researcher. Some of the data repositories most commonly used in the Netherlands include:

  • DANS-EASY: a domain-agnostic research data repository hosted by the Data Archiving and Networked Services, an institute of NWO and KNAW. DANS also develops policies, services and new infrastructures for research data and provides researchers with advice on how to preserve their data. VU researchers are also welcome to deposit their data at DANS-EASY;
  • 4TU.ResearchData: a repository for science, engineering and design data hosted by the 4TU Federation. This is a consortium of the four Dutch technical universities: TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, University of Twente and Wageningen University and Research. VU researchers are also welcome to deposit their data at 4TU;
  • Zenodo: a domain-agnostic research data repository hosted by CERN in Switzerland and funded by the European Commission. Zenodo does not only host data, but also presentations, conference procedures and policy documents. It is also possible to archive GitHub repositories directly into Zenodo, by which you contribute to Open Science by making a snapshot of your code available in its current form and for the long term;
  • OSF: a data management and research dissemination platform. The VU is an institutional member of the OSF, which means that you can sign up (and in) using your VU account by clicking on the Institution Button on the sign in/up pages. You can use the OSF to create registrations and preregistrations for your research, to publish preprints, and publish and share data and documentation. You can also link other repositories such as DataverseNL to your OSF project. The same goes for GitHub and storage options such as Research Drive and Surfdrive. Do be careful about what you connect! More instructions about using OSF as a VU user are here, and a full guide for VU OSF users, including instructions about connecting external storage can be found here.

You can also find repositories via the Registry of Research Data Repositories. When you are choosing a repository, it is important to check that it provides all the services you need. A good way to find out is to check if a repository as a Core Trust Seal, which is a form of certification for quality repositories. But if a repository does not have the Core Trust Seal, it does not necessarily mean it is not a good repository. As a minimum, you should check that:

  • The repository provides a persistent identifier, such as a DOI;
  • The repository enables you to add rich metadata to your dataset and ideally follows an internationally recognised metadata standard, such as Dublin Core or DataCite;
  • The repository offers functionality to publish data with an embargo or under restrictions, if you need that;
  • The repository allows you to add a licence to the dataset;
  • The repository is funded sustainably for at least the next 50 years;
  • And, in some cases, that the repository's servers are located in the EU.

More recommendations for choosing a data repository can be found on the websites of OpenAire or CESSDA.

If you would like advice about what would be a good place for you to archive your research data, you can always reach out to the RDM Support Desk.