Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions are provided here.
If you are unable to find an answer to your question, please get in touch by selecting one of the short web forms.
Questions about depositing data
In the context of data archives, data means digital data. Data can consist of different types of qualitative or quantitative materials, for example: numeric data files; survey databases; administrative data; interview transcripts; diaries; field notes; audio recordings; photographs. A data collection can result from primary data collection or can be derived from existing sources of data. Also see About our data.
A variety of producers deposit their data, including government departments, intergovernmental organisations, independent research institutes, academic researchers, and market research organisations.
Censuses and large surveys carried out by governments for their own policy purposes are particularly rich sources of data for further exploration. Central government, and in particular, the Office for National Statistics is a major and regular supplier of data series, including the General Lifestyle Survey (GLF), the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and the Health Survey for England (HSE). Some datasets may not have been collected specifically for research purposes. Administrative databases, such as the National Health Service Patient Re-registrations, although collected for a very different purpose, can provide valuable and timely information for researchers. We are keen to acquire more data from government departments and commercial organisations. If you have data to offer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Academic research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is an important source of our data, as the council operates a mandatory data deposit policy. All grant holders are expected to deposit data for archiving and reuse. Examples of large-scale ESRC datasets are the British Social Attitudes Survey, the British Election Studies, the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society. There is also a large selection of qualitative research data and numerous smaller data collections resulting from academic research projects.
Data archiving has great benefits for data owners, data users and researchers. We ensure the long-term safe-keeping of data and maintain control on your behalf. We can inform you of applications for use and maintain registers of users and usage. The ability to demonstrate continued usage of the data after the original research is completed can influence funders to provide further research funding.
The use of your data by other researchers may lead to collaborations with you and to co-authorship of publications based on reuse of the data. Depositing data allows you to avoid the administrative tasks associated with external users and their queries. At the same time we can foster a fruitful dialogue between you and secondary researchers by running user groups and data-use workshops while shielding you from the more tedious aspects of dissemination.
It is also an essential part of the scholarly research process to be able to identify information sources. Bibliographic control of books, papers, journals and other printed sources is taken for granted. They are identifiable in library and publishers' catalogues and, when used as source material in scholarly publications, are fully referenced. The depositing of data enables datasets to be as fully identifiable and easy to find as printed materials by ensuring that:
The archiving of research data by no means replaces scientific publications. Archiving data resulting from a research project provides an additional output besides many other research outputs. Archived data can complement publications and provide the baseline data used for publications. Some datasets can be significant in their own right and may qualify as part of a researcher's research portfolio.
Most potential users will be within the higher education and further education research communities, though data may also be used by researchers from other sectors such as central and local government. Data are also frequently used for teaching purposes to study research methodologies and how researchers approach studying certain topics. See case studies for examples of how data in our collection are used.
All new or regular collections are reviewed by our Data Appraisal Group according to our Collections Development Policy to determine whether they are suitable for inclusion in our collection. If you are an ESRC grant holder, you can deposit your data directly into our ReShare repository. See How to deposit data.
Your data can be peer reviewed if they are linked to a data paper that you submit into a data journal such as Scientific Data or Research Data Journal. For other datasets we will carry out certain quality reviews of data during processing to ensure that variables and values are accurate according to the documentation supplied and are well labelled; to check for missing or erroneous values; to check that confidentiality is not breached; etc.
Follow our standard procedures to deposit data in ReShare. In addition:
Read a blog post about the process.
You can find some easy-to-understand information about what archiving data means at Legal and ethical issues. This is suitable to share with participants.
Personal or sensitive data may not be suitable for sharing with other researchers, depending on the informed consent that has been obtained from participants.
Data which include multiple copyright layers or rights owners cannot be shared unless permission for data sharing has been given by all copyright/rights holders. Depositors must ensure all rights have been cleared and provide information to confirm that any legal and ethical issues have been resolved. This enables us to legitimately preserve and make the data available for analysis.
If there is any doubt about rights ownership, please consult your institutional legal team and refer to our information on Copyright.
Once we have archived the data, you can access those data at all times. We will safeguard and preserve the data in the long term, so they remain accessible. You may keep a copy of your data at your own discretion.
For help with answering questions on data collection and data sharing on the ESRC application form, see information for ESRC researchers.
We do not exclusively archive English language data but we would need sufficient information to be able to review your data against the criteria in our Collections Development Policy to determine if they are suitable for inclusion in our collection. However we cannot guarantee to verify and quality control these data to the same standards as English language data. The accompanying documentation would make this clear to users. The data should be accompanied by an English summary and English documentation and metadata explaining the material.
We are less likely to accept summary data because of their more limited reuse potential. However, if you are funded by the ESRC then you should upload them to the ReShare data repository.
We judge each data offer on a case-by-case basis. Whilst it is preferable for research purposes that interviews and focus group discussions are transcribed (as it makes reuse of such data much easier), at times audio-visual materials are archived too. We can offer advice on digitising paper-based artefacts, such as photos, postcards, and family trees. If the data are ESRC-funded you can use the ReShare repository. Otherwise, we will assess your data against our Collections Development Policy criteria.
Yes. We you can deposit tweetIDs, userIDs and timestamps, but not the textual tweet content or further details about the person sending the tweet, into our ReShare repsoitory. Detailed information is available in the Preserving Social Media report.
Data should be prepared so that they can be easily understood and used by other researchers. Data should be clearly labelled and documented; research procedures, fieldwork methods and the context of the research should be explained and all variables, codes and fields should be self-explanatory. Documentation may include user guides, questionnaires, technical reports, publications, working papers and lab books. See Preparing data.
Attention may need to be given to the possible confidentiality of data. Informed consent may need to be obtained for data to be shared with the wider research community and data may need to be anonymised.
Detailed information is available for researchers from Manage data including consent and ethics, copyright, documenting your data, formatting your data, and storing your data.
The focus of ReShare is the storage and sharing of primary research data from ESRC grant holders and other research projects. All forms of digital data can be deposited in and accessed via ReShare, including statistical data, databases, word documents and audio-visual materials. Contributors are required to register with the UK Data service in order to contribute and upload materials.
ReShare uses a state-of-the-art open source repository system based on EPrints software. We check all uploaded data to ensure they are virus free, readable and free from rights and disclosure problems.
See how to upload data to ReShare.
The Licence Agreement asks the Depositor to guarantee that nothing in the data collection is illegal, and that the data collection does not breach privacy or data protection laws. It also asks for assurances that you are entitled to place the data collection in the Archive and that the agreement of all parties who may have an interest in the data collection has been obtained. The Depositor should ensure that anyone with copyright interest has been included in the Licence Agreement.
The Licence Agreement should be signed by the owner of the data collection, or in the case of institutions or organisations, it should be signed by a person authorised by that institution or organisation to sign such agreements. The agreement makes sure that you retain ownership in the data collection and can continue to use it in any way you choose.
Most data owners allow their data to be used for non-commercial educational purposes by any registered user. In some cases, data owners allow their data collection to be used by anyone without restriction (in these cases, the right to be asserted as owner of the data collection remains, as do all moral rights). Some data owners may require additional restrictions on access if the data content is of a sensitive or confidential nature. In these cases, Contact the Collections Development team to discuss alternative access conditions.
No, the Licence Agreement does not require you to guarantee accuracy in the data, nor take any responsibility for any subsequent analysis of the data collection.
No, you remain free to enter into other agreements for distribution or to develop distribution mechanisms yourself. However, deposit with the UK Data Archive relieves you of the administrative and technical burdens associated with distribution.
Yes, for those datasets that require user registration we keep a record of who is using each data collection. If you wish to see records for your own deposited collection, you may request a report detailing usage. For open datasets that do not require registration we can provide basic information on number of downloads.
The UK Data Service has recently upgraded its data discovery and access systems. Read more about the changes to our new Data Catalogue and ‘My Account’ area.