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Data Services

A Guide of Library Data Services

Storing and Preserving your Data

Storage of data ensures you will be able to access the data through the research project.

Preservation of data ensures you will be able to access the data once the project is complete.

There are systems for both storage and preservation to prevent lost of data.  Preservation will require additional steps to keep the data accessible long term.

Back up plans are important to avoid data loss.  They should be documented for researchers to follow, and for new researchers to learn the back up process.

Best Practices

  • Make 3 copies (original + external/local + external/remote)
  • Create a schedule for backing up data
  • Include the version in the file name to easily locate various iteration of data
  • Have data geographically distributed (local vs. remote)
  • Use Cloud Storage such as Amazon S3, Elephant Drive, Drop Box, Google Drive
  • Have assigned project members responsible for data maintenance
  • Transfer data to a newer technology to avoid being unable to use it
  • Do not store data on USB sticks or DVDs, as they are susceptible to bit rot
  • Unencrypted is ideal for storing your data because it will make it most easily read by you and others in the future.
  • If you do need to encrypt your data because of human subjects then:
    • Keep passwords and keys on paper (2 copies), and in an encrypted digital file
    • Uncompressed is also ideal for storage, but if you need to do so to conserve space, limit compression to your 3rd backup copy

Types of Repositories

Institutional repositories are hosted by academic institutions.  Data is accepted for all disciplines and are designed to ensure long-term preservation.  Researchers outside the institution are unaware of their existence, making data less discoverable.  

Discipline Specific repositories are curated by domain experts and have domain specific metadata to allow for greater discovery.  These repositories may not guarantee long term preservation.

Cross-Disciplinary repositories cover multiple topics allowing for discovery of researchers outside the field.  These repositories may not guarantee long term preservation.

Data Repository Checklist

1.     Is a reputable repository available?
2.     Will it take the data you want to deposit?

3.     Will it be safe in legal terms?

4.     Will the repository sustain the data value?

5.     Will it support analysis and track data usage?

Data Repositories