figshare help

Guide to sharing NIH-funded research on

All researchers with NIH funding are invited to use Figshare to make all the products of their research publicly available, reusable, and citable when a discipline-specific repository is unavailable. is free for researchers to use and provides free, open access for others to view and download your research. Any type of data can be shared and many file types can be previewed in the browser. Also, many other products of your research beyond data can also be shared including code and software, multimedia files, figures, protocols, workflows, posters, presentations, and papers. Figshare+ is a repository that allows for openly sharing big datasets (over 20GB), more files, and larger files together with more license and metadata options than as well as expert support and dataset review. Figshare+ has a one-time data publishing fee based on storage amount, which may be an allowable cost on an NIH grant. Sharing all of the results and components of your research can make it more transparent, reproducible, reusable, and impactful and planning how to share your work in a trusted repository like Figshare from the beginning of a project can help you comply with funder policies, including NIH policies, for data management and sharing as well as journal policies for data availability. 

Here we outline how to share NIH-funded biomedical research on, including some best practices to make your work as discoverable and reusable as possible. 

To get started, sign-up for a free account free account or get started with a Figshare+ dataset. Then upload, describe, and publish your data. Here are a few things to think about when uploading and sharing your NIH-funded research. 

1. Items and Collections - Group your research products as you would want them to be cited. If you have a research project with multiple data files or outputs, you can choose to create multiple items with just 1 or 2 files each or you can create a single item with many files. How you choose to group these should depend on how similar the items are, if they are the same type, and if you wish to apply the same licenses. You can also create a Collection to group together any public items published across Figshare portals - a collection offers a way to point to all of the outputs associated with a specific paper, project, grant, or research group with a single DOI and citation. 

2. Sharing large or complex data - 

  • To publish datasets larger than 20GB (up to many TBs) or files larger than 20GB (up to 5TB), please consider Figshare+, our Figshare repository for FAIR-ly sharing big datasets. There is a one-time cost associated with Figshare+ to cover the cost of storing the data persistently that may be an allowable cost on your NIH grant. Find out more about Figshare+ features including transparent pricing based on storage or get in touch at with the storage amount needed and we will find the best way to support your data sharing.
  • For complex hierarchical data you may wish to upload zipped or compressed files to preserve the file structure. The file names within these, but not the files themselves, will be previewable and it’s recommended to group data into files of less than 10GB to facilitate downloading. 
  • You can use the Figshare FTP or API to upload files.
  • You can also use the Figshare API to upload and download data and metadata.
  • You can link a GitHub repository to publish releases to Figshare. See all Figshare integrations

3. Data sharing considerations and best practices - see our Guide to Best practices for managing your outputs on Figshare for important considerations including: 

  • Ethical considerations - consent to share, human subjects data, and personally identifiable information (PII). Note that only fully deidentified data without PII should be shared on Figshare. 
  • Copyright - Do you have the right to distribute this work? How should the work be licensed for future reuse? 
  • Make your data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable)
  • Opt for open and preservable file formats that can be used without proprietary software when possible, even if it requires posting the same data in multiple formats.
  • Use a consistent and descriptive file naming convention.
  • Include documentation that would be needed to understand and reuse the data as a file together with the dataset such as a README text file, a code book, or a data dictionary.
  • Include descriptive metadata to enhance the discoverability of the work and provide context to the research study. 
  • Include discipline or method specific metadata and adhere to data standards for your research community when possible.
  • Select an appropriate license for reuse paying particular attention to which licenses are best suited to different output types such as data, code, or written text. 

4. Title - Include a meaningful title for your items as you would for any other research work such as a paper or presentation so that the title provides context about the research question and method. If the data supports a specific publication you might wish to include the paper title in the item title as well.

5. Description - In the “description” metadata field for each item be sure to include a description of the specific research items shared as well as description of the research methods used and the research study as a whole. This is important if someone discovers the research independent of any other description. This is similar to the caption you might write for a figure and the abstract you would provide for a paper. 

6. Related publications - link to related publications and edit your item to add publications if they are published later. Include the full citation to a related journal article or preprint in the description field and include the article title and article DOI (DOI only starting with “10.”, not the complete URL) to the published paper in the ‘Related materials’ section. You can also add other related resources such as: research materials shared in Figshare or another repository, a project or lab website, a GitHub repository, or a registration or other study registration.  

7. Funding - In the funding field, list all supporting funding with each funding source or grant entered separately. You can search for these by grant title or number. For NIH funding, enter the activity code (e.g. R01), the institute code (e.g. EY), and the grant 6 digit serial number in the ‘Funding’ field - this will pull from the Dimensions grant database and should show you the title of the grant in a dropdown, which you can click to add. You can also add NIH contract numbers (e.g. beginning with HHSN) and NIH intramural project IDs here to specify other forms of NIH funding. Funding from other agencies such as NSF (enter award number) or private funders should also be included here. Funding information can be added as free text in these fields for any support not found via the search function. 

8. Each item you publish on Figshare will have a DOI, a Digital Object Identifier, which is a globally unique, persistent identifier that is version controlled. You can view the DOI and full citation for any public item by clicking on the Cite button. The DOI will be live once the item is published but you can also reserve the DOI in advance to include it in manuscripts. The DOI should be used whenever you cite the item so citation metrics can be collected including when pointing to the data in related publications or data availability statements. You can also include these DOIs in reports to NIH to demonstrate publicly available research products of funding. For datasets supporting a publication indexed in PubMed Central, the dataset DOI from Figshare may be included in the publication record metadata as well.

9. You can edit your published research items at any time to update the files or description and DOIs will be versioned to reflect substantial changes

Other NIH data sharing resources:

National Library of Medicine Data Sharing Resources

National Library of Medicine Data Sharing Policies

NIH Data Sharing Policy

Final NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing (effective January 2023)

NIH Data Sharing FAQs

NIH Public Access Policy for Peer-Reviewed Articles to be deposited in PubMed Central

We encourage you to seek out data sharing guidance that is specific to your supporting NIH Institute or Center or your field of research as well as to seek support from your institution that may be available from the library or office of research.

Writing a Data Management Plan? See our Guide to including Figshare in your Data Management Plan.

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