Share and preserve research data

Two women sharing head phones, photo by Sigfrid LundbergData sharing

Data sharing is often a natural part of the research process; however, your funding agency may require that you share your data or make them publicly accessible. Before sharing your data, you should consider not only the metadata you will need to provide along with the data to make it easily understood, but also the privacy, intellectual property, copyright, or licensing issues to be addressed with regard to the sharing.

Questions about data sharing? Visit our FAQ

US Public Access Plans

The US Federal Government requires that Federal agencies that fund research develop plans for increasing public access to the results of that research. Comprehensive information on all of these plans can be found at SPARC's Data Sharing Requirements by Federal Agency page.

Assigning metadata

It is important to describe your research clearly so that you and others will understand the data in the future.

See our guide on Metadata for more information.

Intellectual property

The Research Policy Handbook contains Stanford-specific information regarding intellectual property, including inventions, patents, licensing, copyright, and tangible research property.

Human subjects

If your research involves human subjects, you will need to consider confidentiality and privacy issues before sharing your data. See more about sharing human subject data.

Data from other sources

Be sure you understand what rights you have with regard to data you are using that comes from another source. You may or may not have the right to share these data. Check the license associated with these data or the data owners to verify what you can and can't do with these data.


You may need or want to assign a license to your data. See more about licenses.

Data preservation

Data preservation means more than just making a backup copy of your data; it means protecting your data in a secure environment for long-term access and reuse. Ideally, your data should be regularly audited to guarantee its integrity, associated with appropriate metadata to ensure its discoverability, and monitored to control access to meet privacy, licensing, and intellectual property restrictions. 

Questions about repositories and data preservation? Visit our FAQ

Selecting data for preservation

See more about selecting data for preservation.

Data preservation at Stanford

As a Stanford researcher, you may choose to store your data in the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). Storing your data in the SDR will protect and preserve it for the future and ensure that is easily accessible (and citable!) by others. Please note that the SDR is for use by Stanford researchers only and requires a valid SUNet ID to access our online deposit application.

Read more about data preservation in the SDR.

Domain-specific repositories

It may be appropriate for you to make use of a domain-specific repository. These repositories tend to accept only specialized types of data and may require you to follow strict formatting guidelines. These repositories may or may not provide true preservation services or persistent access to your data.

See our list of domain-specific repositories that you might consider for your data.

Case study: Data persistence

Read our case study about why it's important to preserve your data in the right place!