Publishing research data

  • Traditionally publishing the results of your research in a journal article or book was the main way to sharing the findings of your research. However, it is increasingly best practice, and often required by research funders, for researchers to publish the final set of data that underpins the findings of their research with other researchers and, when appropriate and permissible, the general public.

    This page will give you some brief guidance on what to consider when publishing your data, and ideally this would be done as part of writing your Data Management Plan at the very start of a research project. If you would like further guidance on publishing your data please contact Scholarly Communications:

  • Below are some questions from the Digital Curation Centre (2013) for you to consider about publishing your data. If you would like advice on how to answer these questions when writing your Data Management Plan please contact Scholarly Communications:


    • How will potential users find out about your data?
    • With whom will you share the data, and under what conditions?
    • Will you share/publish data via a repository, handle requests directly or use another mechanism?
    • When will you make the data available?
    • Will you pursue getting a persistent identifier for your data?


    • What action will you take to overcome or minimise restrictions?
    • For how long do you need exclusive use of the data and why?
    • Will a data sharing agreement/publishing licence (or equivalent) be required? 


    Digital Curation Centre (2013) Checklist for a Data Management Plan. v.4.0. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online: (Accessed: 28 September 2017)  

    For other researchers to correctly interpret and effectively reuse your data you will need to provide information about it - this is called metadata. Ideally the metadata will be recorded in a standardised format (e.g. Dublin Core) that is easily understood and communicated. However, it may sometimes be necessary to create a 'readme' file to provide this information to potential users of your research data. Below is some advice on writing a good quality 'readme' file. If you would like advice on creating metadata or a 'readme' file please contact Scholarly Communications:

    Best Practices

    • Create one 'readme' file for each data file, whenever possible. Name the 'readme' so that it is easily associated with the data file(s) it describes.
    • Write your 'readme' document as a plain text file.
    • Format multiple 'readme' files identically.
    • Use standardized date formats (e.g. YYYYMMDD or YYYYMMDDThhmmss).
    • Follow the scientific conventions for your discipline for taxonomic, geospatial and geologic names and keywords.

    Recommended minimum content

    • General information
      • Provide a title for the dataset
      • Name/institution/address/email information for Principal investigator (or person responsible for collecting the data)
      • Date of data collection (can be a single date, or a range)
      • Information about geographic location of data collection
    • Data and file overview
      • For each filename, a short description of what data it contains
      • Date that the file was created
    • Sharing and access information
      • Licenses or restrictions placed on the data
    • Methodological information
      • Description of methods for data collection or generation
      • Description of methods used for data processing (describe how the data were generated from the raw or collected data)
    • Data-specific information (repeat this section as needed for each dataset, or file, as appropriate)
      • Variable list, including full names and definitions (spell out abbreviated words) of column headings for tabular data
      • Units of measurement
      • Definitions for codes or symbols used to record missing data


    Research Data Management Group (no date) Guide to writing "readme" style metadata. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. Available: (Accessed 28 September 2017). Published with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (


    Oxford Brookes' institutional repository RADAR is an excellent data service for publishing your data (the intention of RADAR is to communicate your data to the world - if you would like to archive your data, i.e. store it for the long term, please consider using the Arkivum service offered by IT Services). Some of the benefits of publishing your data through RADAR include the following:

    • We can assign your data a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) to aid long-term discovery and citation
    • For smaller independent datasets we can deposit your data in the Research Data collection
    • For large or continually growing datasets we can create entirely separate collections (e.g. the Sonic Art Research Unit collection)
    • We will license your data with an internationally recognised Creative Commons license, which will clearly state what is and isn't permissible with your data
    • We will make a record of your data on the UK Research Data Discovery Service - so that worldwide researchers can find your data in RADAR - to increase the chance of discovery, reuse, and citation of your data

    If you have any questions about using RADAR to share your research data please contact Scholarly Communications:

    Other repositories

    You can also choose to deposit your research data in a subject-specific national or international data service or domain repository. If you choose this option please consider the following questions first:

    • Who will own the Intellectual Property of the data once it is deposited?
    • Is there a financial implication to depositing your data with the data service for the short or long term?
    • How sustainable is the business model of the data service?
    • What will happen to your data if the service is bought by a third party?
    • Will the data service assign your data a unique and persistent identifier (e.g. DOI) to aid long-term discovery?

    If you have any questions about choosing a repository for your data please contact Scholarly Communications: