Make your data count

ORA-Data – Pre-deposit checklist

This checklist is intended to help you assess whether you are ready to deposit your research data in ORA-Data, the University of Oxford’s institutional archive.

Learn more about ORA-Data
  • Is ORA-Data the right place for the data?

    ORA-Data is intended chiefly as a repository for data which needs to be preserved, but which has no other obvious home. If a suitable disciplinary archive exists, that will frequently be a better option. A registry of research data repositories is available from

    If you decide to deposit your data elsewhere, please add a metadata record to ORA-Data. (Adding a record is done in the same way as depositing, but without uploading data files.)

  • Does the dataset arise from University of Oxford research?

    ORA-Data is intended for data created or worked on by Oxford researchers. This includes projects conducted in collaboration with other institutions or organisations.

  • Is the dataset complete and in its final state?

    ORA-Data is intended for the preservation of datasets in their final form. It is not a store for live or active research data.

    • If the dataset being deposited is one that underpins a particular research publication such as a journal article, it should contain all the information needed to support the work’s findings or conclusions, including the numbers behind any charts or graphs in the publication and the data required to justify quantitative statements.
    • If the material being deposited is a more general collection resulting from a research project, it should include all available data with potential re-use value, in its finalised form.
    • In some cases, where a data collection is continually growing or evolving (e.g. longitudinal studies), it may be appropriate to deposit periodic snapshots of the data.

    Please note that if a dataset has a DOI (digital object identifier) assigned to it, the dataset and some selected metadata fields cannot be amended once the ORA-Data record has been published.

  • Is the data in a form suitable for preservation?

    The purpose of depositing data in an archive such as ORA-Data is to preserve it for future use. It is therefore important to ensure that data remains both usable and intelligible. Key considerations include:

    Is the data saved in an appropriate file format?

    While any type of file is accepted for preservation in ORA-Data, it is worth considering which formats will ensure the broadest possible accessibility by others, both now and in the future. To help future-proof your data, you may wish to deposit the same item in more than one format.

    For example, plain text files (such as .txt, .csv, .html, and .xml) are both human and machine readable, and (unlike some proprietary software formats) can be opened in any operating system by a wide range of applications. Including a plain text version can extend the life of your data files, by ensuring they can still be opened even if the software package used to create them ceases to be widely available.

    Is the data presented and organised clearly?

    Data should form a coherent package, relating to a particular project or piece of research, and should be presented in a way that makes it intelligible to someone who wasn’t involved in its creation.

    It is also helpful for data to have a clear and consistent file naming system. Other researchers can be helped to navigate and understand data by grouping multiple files into structured folders, as appropriate.

  • Is the data accompanied by all necessary documentation?

    It is important that datasets are accompanied by whatever contextual information is needed to help future users make sense of them, and interpret them correctly. This might include explanatory information about research methods, describing how, why and when the data was created (including whether any specific software was used to create, edit or process the files). If data has been edited or manipulated, details of the procedures used should be included. It’s also important to spell out any acronyms used, and to explain any jargon and the labels of any variables and values. If desired, documentation can be included as a separate file when data is uploaded to ORA-Data.

  • Have you resolved any IP issues?

    Before depositing in ORA-Data, you will need to ensure that you have the rights to make your data available. If the dataset arose from collaborative work, or includes pre-existing material covered by copyright or other IP rights (such as the database right), you will need permission from the rights holders.

    Further information is available on the Rights and Licensing page.

  • If the data is confidential or otherwise sensitive, have you taken steps to ensure that no inappropriate information is revealed?

    If the data contains information about human subjects, it may need to be anonymised, and/or accompanied by evidence that the subjects have given proper consent for the information to be shared.

    Further information is available on the Ethical Issues and Data Protection page.

  • Have you selected a data steward?

    As part of the ORA-Data deposit process, you will be asked to nominate a data steward. This is someone within the University who can act as a point of contact regarding the dataset in the event that the creators cannot be contacted – someone who can, for example, make decisions about the retention of data or answer questions about it. Some departments or units will have a designated data steward; otherwise, a departmental administrator or subject librarian may be a good option.

  • Have you established whether an embargo period is appropriate (and how long this needs to be)?

    Datasets deposited in ORA-Data may be embargoed, either indefinitely or for a specified period of time. This may be done to allow researchers time to publish their conclusions, or if there are national security, legal, ethical, or commercial reasons for the data not to be freely released. However, funding bodies often set a maximum to the length of time that non-sensitive data can be embargoed for, so it is important to ensure that all relevant requirements are being met.

    When an item is embargoed in ORA-Data, the associated catalogue record and file names are usually visible, but the file contents cannot be viewed or downloaded. However, if necessary, both the data files and the record can be hidden from public view.

If you’ve answered Yes (or N/A) to all the above, you’re ready to deposit.

Click here to go to the ORA deposit page, then select ‘Data’ from the list of options.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above points further, please email