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Data publication

Can you really deposit your data in a public repository?


Sometimes it is difficult to determine if publishing data you have at hand is the right thing to do. Some reasons for hesitations might be that you have not used the data in a publication yet and don’t want to be scooped, that the data contains personal information about patients or that the data was collected or produced in a collaboration.


  • Publishing data does not necessarily mean open access nor public. Data can be published with closed or restricted access.
  • Data doesn’t have to be published immidiately while you are still working on the project. Data can be made available during the revision of the paper or after the publication of the paper.
  • Make sure to have the rights or permissions to publish the data.
    • Is the data commercially-sensitive?
    • Does the data contain confidential/restricted information?
    • Who controls the data?


  • If ethical, legal or contractual issues apply to your data (e.g. personal or sensitive data, confidential or third-party data, data with copyright, data with potential economic or commercial value, intellectual property or IP data, etc) ask help to the Legal Team, Tech Transfer Office or Data Protection Officer of your institute.
  • Decide what is the right type of access for your data, for instance:
    • Open access.
    • Registered access or with authentication procedure.
    • Controlled access or via Data Access Committees (DACs).
  • Decide what licence should be applied to your metadata and data.
  • Certain repositories offer solutions for depositing data that need to be under restricted access. This allows for data to be findable even when it can not be published openly. One example is the The European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) that can be used to deposit potentially identifiable genetic and phenotypic human data.
  • Many repositories provide the option to put an embargo on a deposited dataset. This might be useful if you prefer to use the data in a publication before making it available for others to use.
  • Establish an agreement outlining the controllership of the data and each collaborators’ rights and responsibilities.
  • Even if the data cannot be published, it is good practice to publish the metadata of your datasets.

Which repository should you use to publish your data?


Once you have completed your experiments and have performed quality control of your data it is good scientific practice to share your data in a public repository. Publishing your data is often required by funders and publishers.

The most suitable repository will depend on the data type and your discipline.


  • What type of data are you planning to publish?
  • Does the repository need to provide solutions for restricted access for sensitive data?
  • Do you have the rights to publish the data via the repository?
  • How sustainable is the repository, will the data remain public over time?
  • How FAIR is the repository?
  • Does the funding agency or the scientific journal pose specific requirements regarding data sharing?
  • What are the repository’s policies concerning licences and data reuse?


  • Based on the possible ethical, legal and contractual implications of your data, decides:
  • Check if/what discipline-specific repositories can apply the necessary access conditions and licences to your (meta)data.
  • Discipline-specific repositories: if a discipline-specific repository, recognised by the community, exists this should be your first choice since discipline-specific repositories often increases the FAIRness of the data.
  • General-purpose and institutional repositories: For other cases, a repository that accepts data of different types and disciplines should be considered. It could be a general-purpose repository or a centralised repository provided by your institution or university.
  • or Repository Finder gathers information about existing repositories and allows you to filter them based on access and licence types.
  • and FAIRsharing websites gather features of repositories, which you can filter by discipline, data type, taxonomy and many other features.

How do you prepare your data for publication in data repositories?


Once you have decided where to publish your data, you will have to make your (meta)data ready for repository submission. For this reason it is recommended to become aware of repository’s requirements before start collecting the data.


  • What file formats should be used for the data?
  • How is the data uploaded?
  • What metadata do you need to provide?
  • Under which licence should the data be published?


  • Learn the following information about the chosen repositories:
    • Required metadata schemes.
    • Required ontologies or controlled vocabularies.
    • Accepted file formats for data and metadata.
    • Costs for sharing and storing data.
  • Repositories generally have information about data formats, metadata requirements and how data can be uploaded under a section called “submit”, “submit data”, “for submitters” or something similar. Read this section in detail.
  • To ascertain re-usability data should be released with a clear and accessible data usage licence. We suggest making your data available under licences that permit free reuse of data, e.g. a Creative Commons licence, such as CC0 or CC-BY.
    • Note that every repository can have one default licence for all datasets. For instance, sequence data submitted to for example ENA are implicitly free to reuse by others as specified in the INCD Standards and policies.
  • See the corresponding page for more detailed information about metadata, licences and data transfer.

More information

Relevant tools and resources

Skip tool table
Tool or resource Description Related pages Registry
b2share Store and publish your research data. Can be used to bridge between domains Data storage Bioimaging data
BioImageArchive The BioImage Archive stores and distributes biological images that are useful to life-science researchers. Bioimaging data FAIRsharing
dbGAP The database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) archives and distributes data from studies investigating the interaction of genotype and phenotype in Humans Researcher Data steward infrastructure Human data FAIRsharing TeSS
Dryad Open-source, community-led data curation, publishing, and preservation platform for CC0 publicly available research data Biomolecular simulation data Bioimaging data FAIRsharing
ELIXIR Deposition Databases for Biomolecular Data List of discipline-specific deposition databases recommended by ELIXIR. Researcher Data steward research Data steward infrastructure COVID-19 Data Portal NeLS IFB CSC FAIRsharing
EMBL-EBI's data submission wizard EMBL-EBI's wizard for finding the right EMBL-EBI repository for your data. Researcher Data steward research
EMPIAR Electron Microscopy Public Image Archive is a public resource for raw, 2D electron microscopy images. You can browse, upload and download the raw images used to build a 3D structure OMERO Bioimaging data
fairsharing A curated, informative and educational resource on data and metadata standards, inter-related to databases and data policies. Documentation and metadata Data steward policy Data steward research Researcher Microbial biotechnology Existing data FAIRsharing TeSS
FigShare Data publishing platform Biomolecular simulation data Bioimaging data FAIRsharing TeSS
GA4GH Data Security Toolkit Principled and practical framework for the responsible sharing of genomic and health-related data. Data steward policy Data steward research Data steward infrastructure Human data Sensitive data
GitHub Versioning system, used for sharing code, as well as for sharing of small data Data organisation Data steward infrastructure Data steward research FAIRsharing TeSS
GitLab GitLab is an open source end-to-end software development platform with built-in version control, issue tracking, code review, CI/CD, and more. Self-host GitLab on your own servers, in a container, or on a cloud provider. Data organisation Data steward infrastructure Data steward research TeSS
Image Data Resource (IDR) A repository of image datasets from scientific publications Microbial biotechnology Documentation and metadata Data transfer OMERO Bioimaging data FAIRsharing
Mendeley data Multidisciplinary, free-to-use open repository specialized for research data Biomolecular simulation data FAIRsharing
OpenScienceFramework free and open source project management tool that supports the entire research lifecycle: planning, execution, reporting, archiving, and discovery Biomolecular simulation data FAIRsharing
PANGAEA Data Publisher for Earth and Environmental Science FAIRsharing
Repository Finder Repository Finder can help you find an appropriate repository to deposit your research data. The tool is hosted by DataCite and queries the re3data registry of research data repositories. Researcher Data steward research
Scientific Data's Recommended Repositories List of respositories recommended by Scientific Data, contains both discipline-specific and general repositories. Researcher Data steward research Data steward infrastructure
SSBD:database Added-value database for biological dynamics images Bioimaging data
SSBD:repository An open data archive that stores and publishes bioimaging and biological quantitative datasets Bioimaging data
The European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) EGA is a service for permanent archiving and sharing of all types of personally identifiable genetic and phenotypic data resulting from biomedical research projects Different instances available Human data Data steward policy CSC TSD FAIRsharing
Wellcome Open Research - Data Guidelines Wellcome Open Research requires that the source data underlying the results are made available as soon as an article is published. This page provides information about data you need to include, where your data can be stored, and how your data should be presented. Researcher Data steward research
Zenodo Generalist research data repository built and developed by OpenAIRE and CERN Biomolecular simulation data Bioimaging data FAIRsharing TeSS
National resources
Norwegian COVID-19 Data Portal

The Norwegian COVID-19 Data Portal aims to bundle the Norwegian research efforts and offers guidelines, tools, databases and services to support Norwegian COVID-19 researchers.

Human data Sensitive data Existing data
Norwegian Federated EGA

Federated instance collects metadata of -omics data collections stored in national or regional archives and makes them available for search through the main EGA portal. With this solution, sensitive data will not physically leave the country, but will reside on TSD.

The European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA)
Human data Sensitive data Existing data TSD

Galaxy is an open source, web-based platform for data intensive biomedical research. This instance of Galaxy is coupled with NeLS for easy data transfer.

Data analysis Sensitive data Existing data NeLS

DataverseNO is a national, generic repository for open research data. Various Norwegian research institutions have established a partner agreements about using DataverseNO as institutional repositories for open research data.