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Research Data Management: Data Repositories

Research Data Repositories

The third requirement of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy is data deposit. When fully implemented grant recipients will be required to deposit into a digital repository all digital research data, metadata and code that directly support the research conclusions that arise from agency-supported research.

Research Data Repositories 101

A series of modules developed by the Portage Network's Dataverse North Working Group to help users learn about the role that research data repositories play in good research data management (RDM), and in meeting the requirements of the Tri-Agency RDM Policy. These modules will help researchers learn about different types of research data repositories, policies and practices that affect these repositories, and what they should consider when choosing a repository in which to deposit their data. There are seven modules in this series:

Research Data Repositories 101

The Data Repository Landscape

The data repository landscape is complex and many factors influence the repository chosen.

In general, data repositories fall into the following categories:

  • Multi-disciplinary national or regional
  • Discipline or domain-specific 
  • Journal / publisher
  • Institutional repositories

Within Canada there are two repositories that are national in scope, both multi-disciplinary.

  • Borealis - The Canadian Dataverse Repository network is a repository for research data. Initially only available to members of the Ontario Council of University Libraries, it now includes data collected by individuals and organizations associated with subscribing Canadian universities. The Dataverse platform makes it easy for researchers to deposit data, create appropriate metadata, and version documents as you work. A subscription is not required to search Borealis.

For more information on the Canadian data repository landscape, the Portage Network has created a guide to Repository Options in Canada.

Some domain or disciplinary repositories are transnational in scope because they've always operated that way (think astronomy) or they are highly specialized.

  • is a directory of external, domain-based repositories to help researchers find a repository that meet any discipline-specific needs

Selecting a Data Repository

Data are deposited in a repository towards the end of the research lifecycle, when they are ready for sharing and publication.

All repositories have different capabilities and characteristics and it can be confusing to know which to choose.

data sharing decision tree

Decision tree designed by Melissa Cuthill and Eugene Barsky, UBC, CC-BY

NSCC has not chosen a data repository yet or established the criteria to consider except that it must be hosted in Canada.

What other criteria should NSCC consider? Give us your thoughts.