ORA: the University of Oxford's repository for research outputs, including data
The Oxford Research Archive (ORA) is an archiving service provided by the University of Oxford. It also functions as a catalogue of data produced by Oxford researchers and deposited either in ORA or elsewhere.
ORA accepts data from any discipline, and especially data that underpins publications. It can provide a home for datasets that must be deposited to comply with a funder’s policy, but where there is no suitable national or discipline-specific archive. However, it is currently unable to accept deposits of sensitive or non-anonymised personal data.
ORA preserves stable versions of data and can assign DOIs to data collections if desired, making them citable. Each collection has a freely available online record, to aid data discovery. Data creators can assign rich metadata to their dataset, allowing them to meet funder and publisher requirements, and to receive proper credit and acknowledgement for their work.
ORA does not aim to hold all research data produced by Oxford researchers: it will co-exist with disciplinary and general archives. However, researchers depositing data elsewhere are strongly encouraged to create at least a metadata record in ORA.
DigiSafe is an opt-in subscription service designed to provide secure storage for data which needs to be preserved for short or long periods, typically a year or longer. It has strong features for adding metadata and preserving access to file formats even when the original software used to create the data is no longer available. Data access is comprehensively logged and there is regular integrity checking of all data on the platform. Jupyter notebooks can be run to analyse data directly on the platform.
It is most useful for categories of research data which are not suitable for sharing (for example, identifiable participant records from medical research projects). Stored data can be easily searched and retrieved by users with the appropriate permissions. Built-in functions allow easy management of retention schedules - where material has to be deleted after a set amount of time, for example. DigiSafe is offered on a subscription basis to departments, colleges, and other units, so access to the service is dependent on whether your unit has opted to subscribe. Individual research groups who have secured funding are also welcome to sign up for the services in their own right. Whilst data can be shared directly from the platform, the functionality is quite basic.
Sustainable Digital Scholarship service
The Sustainable Digital Scholarship service is designed to allow researchers to store, work with, preserve, and share research data. The SDS platform, which is provided by Figshare, can be used both for collecting and editing data, and as a way of keeping research data safe for the long term and making it available to a wider public.
The service launched in the Humanities Division, but is available to researchers from across the University. Support and hosting are available free of charge to most pre-existing research projects seeking a more sustainable long-term home. For new projects which have not yet applied for funding, charges apply: quotations can be provided for support and hosting. These fees are only applicable during the funded phase of the project: once the active research period concludes, the data will be maintained on the system indefinitely without further charge.
Departmental data stores
Some Oxford departments have well established data stores that have served their research groups for a significant time. Because these are locally maintained, provision varies greatly: consult your local IT support staff to find out if your department is able to offer long term data storage. A departmental data store may be a good option in some circumstances (for example, if data needs to be preserved but is unsuitable for sharing, if you have very specialist requirements, or if no other archive for the type of data exists), but you should note that they are rarely able to offer the same level of data discoverability as institutional or national archives - though in some cases, it may be possible to create a metadata record in ORA, and use this as a signpost to the departmental data store. It is also important to check carefully what guarantees can be given about the length of time the data will be preserved for.
Nexus365 OneDrive provides secure cloud-hosted storage for members of the University of Oxford. However, whilst OneDrive is extremely convenient and has a relatively large quota, this data only remains live as long as your Oxford account remains active. It thus cannot be used to store data if you leave Oxford after the end of your project, and is not a suitable option for long-term data preservation.
Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online
These services are also available as part of the Nexus365 service. As they can have multiple owners, they can in theory be used for storing data after one individual has left. If you are looking for a way of preserving data after you leave the University, this route will require the agreement of a permanent member of staff who could take over ownership responsibility, for example, your supervisor or head of department. However, these systems are not primarily designed to serve as long-term archives, and hence this should be considered only when no other viable options are available.