The new NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing (effective January 25, 2023) includes supplemental information on Selecting a Data Repository (NOT-OD-21-016), which outlines the data repositories characteristics that researchers should seek out to share their NIH-funded research data and materials.
Figshare.com is an appropriate and well-established generalist repository for researchers to permanently store the datasets and other materials produced from their NIH-funded research and to include in their NIH Data Management and Sharing Plans. Figshare+ uses the same repository infrastructure to offer support for sharing large datasets including transparent costs that can be included in funding proposal budgets. Note that Figshare may also be included in Data Management and Sharing Plans in combination with discipline-specific repositories for sharing any types of research outputs that may not be accepted in more specific repositories. Figshare is currently working with NIH as part of their Generalist Repository Ecosystem Initiative to continue enhancing our support for NIH-funded researcher needs.
Figshare repositories offer established repository infrastructure including adherence to community best practices and standards for persistence, provenance, and discoverability with the flexibility to share any file type and any type of research material and documentation. Figshare makes it easy to share your data in a way that is citable and reusable and to get credit for all of your work.
Figshare is listed as a recommended data sharing resource in the following:
Below, we describe how Figshare meets most of the NIH ‘Desirable Characteristics for Data Repositories’ and the use cases where another repository may be a better fit.
Learn more about how to get started sharing your NIH-funded data with Figshare with the following resources:
Contact us at email@example.com for additional support sharing NIH-funded research data or other materials. If you are at an institution using or considering Figshare, visit our help page on how an institutional repository powered by Figshare can be used to more fully meet the desirable characteristics.
All research made publicly available on Figshare gets allocated a DataCite Digital Object Identifier (DOI) at the point of publication. DOIs can also be reserved in advance to be included in associated publications. This ensures the unique identifier for the dataset is persistent and will not easily disappear as public content cannot be deleted from Figshare.
A globally unique identifier is one that once assigned to one entity cannot be assigned to another. But equally important, persistence means that resources must be allocated to the entity to ensure that reference rot (comprising link rot and content drift) do not occur. All items published through Figshare receive a DOI which is accessed by clicking on the Cite button on a Figshare item page.
Figshare authors can also add their ORCID iD, a unique author identifier to their Figshare Author Profile and can sync Figshare with ORCID and DataCite so that all of their public items from Figshare are pushed to ORCID.
The Funding field in Figshare metadata allows authors to add the specific grants and other sources of support for a project either by searching the linked Dimensions grants database or with free text. Researchers can add NIH grants by searching for the grant ID or title and selecting the appropriate grant.
Figshare was founded in 2011 and in 2012 became a part of the Digital Science portfolio of companies that support the research lifecycle. Over this period of time, it has grown into a sustainable company with more than 150 clients including research institutions around the world. Using a subscription model for software as a service, Figshare is able to provide policy-compliant infrastructure for FAIR data sharing to users at institutions and freely on Figshare.com.
All content in Figshare will be retained for the lifetime of the repository and is legally guaranteed to be retained and persistently available for a minimum of 10 years.
All public research data published using the free version of figshare.com will not only live on Amazon Web Services S3 storage, but also be deposited into additional preservation systems for long-term preservation.
To publish on Figshare, all outputs must include mandatory metadata including: title, author(s), category, item type, keywords, description, and a machine-readable license. Funding sources, author ORCID, title and DOI of an associated peer-reviewed publication, and links to other references may also be included.
Metadata on Figshare is represented in a number of languages including but not limited to HTML, Dublin Core (oai_dc), Datacite (oai_datacite), RDF (rdf), CERIF XML (cerif), Qualified Dublin Core (qdc) (hasPart support), Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (mets) and UKETD_DC (uketd_dc). The Figshare OAI-PMH v2.0 implementation has the following baseURL: https://api.figshare.com/v2/oai.
The link between data and metadata needs to be made explicit by clearly stating the globally unique and persistent identifier in the metadata that relates to the data. Figshare does this in all metadata export languages, including Schema.org which is used to ensure indexing of Figshare content on Google, Google Scholar, and Google Dataset Search.
Metadata and identifiers are also areas Figshare is actively working on enhancing more in the future — see our product roadmap.
Institutions that use Figshare to power a Figshare for Institutions repository may use the Figshare review module for curation of files and metadata before they are published. Organizations using Figshare for their repository can turn on this review feature and have experts review and edit datasets and metadata in collaboration with authors before they are published. Figshare also offers this as a service for Figshare portals via Figshare Curation Services. Lastly, Figshare+, Figshare’s repository for big datasets, does include expert review of files and metadata before they are published to maximize discoverability and reuse.
Figshare believes that data should be as open as possible and should always be free to access. All content hosted on Figshare infrastructure can be downloaded by anyone, with no need to log in. The content can also be mass downloaded or mined using the Figshare API, also openly available to anyone at docs.figshare.com. All Figshare metadata is licensed CC0 for broad reusability.
At the same time, there are some cases when it is appropriate to restrict access to data, which Figshare supports via embargo, private link, and linked data options. An embargo can be applied for any period of time on either the files only or the entire item. Figshare for Institutions may also offer the ability to restrict access to logged-in users, groups, or by IP range, and can enable a “request access” feature.
Data on figshare.com must be licensed under a CC0 or CC-BY license (or a GPL, MIT, or Apache license for code) in order to encourage broad reusability of the work. Metadata is licensed CC0.
Metrics of reuse are openly tracked for each public item on Figshare including the number of Views, Downloads, and Citations and the Altmetric score. Views and downloads are COUNTER compliant and citation data is harvested from the full text of preprints and publications based on the dataset’s unique DOI. Figshare has also implemented Make Data Count to meet community standards for metrics.
Content on the figshare.com must be licensed under a machine readable license: either a CC0 or CC-BY license, or a GPL, MIT, or Apache license for code, to encourage broad reusability of the data.
Researchers are encouraged to include additional documentation regarding any access or reuse requirements as a README file and in the dataset description.
Figshare has clear policies on security, integrity, and privacy:
Figshare is ISO27001 certified.
Figshare has a documented Incident Management Procedure as does Digital Science.
Figshare is ISO27001 certified
Figshare accepts all file formats in order to keep the barriers to data sharing low for researchers. This allows researchers to share the data according to the best practices of their research communities as well as allows flexibility for certain methods or disciplines where specific file types that may not be open are required for data access or reuse. Figshare does not currently perform file conversion en masse specifically because we cannot know the open formats that would be best suited for specific data types or disciplines, although this is under consideration for future development.
Figshare encourages researchers to apply best practices for data sharing according to the FAIR principles, archival best practices in particular for file formats, the standards of their specific methodology or discipline, or the requirements of the funder, publisher, or data management plan (see our Guide to Best Practice for sharing data on Figshare).
All files and metadata publicly available on Figshare are available to be freely downloaded, including via the Figshare API at https://docs.figshare.com/. Figshare’s Open API supports OAI-PMH, which gives a simple technical option for data providers to make their metadata available to services, based on the open standards HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) and XML (Extensible Markup Language). For more information please visit: https://www.openarchives.org/pmh/.
Figshare tracks all uploaded files and any revisions made to the files or metadata of draft and published items. Once published, Figshare supports version control. DOIs are version controlled and publication dates are openly tracked. Published data cannot be deleted from Figshare. For Figshare for organizations portals, actions such as changes made by a reviewer or by an administrator impersonating a user are logged.
All content on Figshare will be retained for the lifetime of the repository and is guaranteed to be retained and persistently available for a minimum of 10 years. Figshare has been working hard to establish a business model that supports sustainability of the research outputs hosted on Figshare. Data is stored redundantly in the cloud as well as archived for long-term preservation.
When sharing data from human participants, particular consideration must be paid to data sharing practices from the beginning of the project (e.g., IRB protocol and informed consent language) through data management and sharing (e.g., de-identification, access). Researchers must manage and share data in accordance with Federal Regulations for the protection of human research participants, NIH expectations for sharing data from human participants (NIH Human Subjects Research), and any requirements of their academic institution or Institutional Review Board.
Figshare may also be used in combination with other data repositories to share some research outputs in a restricted manner and others more openly. Links between these related outputs can be specified in the dataset description and metadata.
Figshare.com does not currently meet the considerations for documenting fidelity to consent, privacy features specific to human data (e.g. tiered access, credentialing of data users) or data access requests, however some of these may be met by Figshare for Institutions repositories that employ dataset review or enable the ‘Request Access to Restricted Files’ feature.
Figshare does not currently administer restricted access to datasets but researchers or organizations may use Figshare’s restricted access functionality to do so in combination with other systems. An embargo may be applied to files only or files and metadata, linked files can be hosted elsewhere, and access can be provided by private link or to certain groups on custom Figshare portals.
Additional features for requesting and providing restricted access to certain logged-in users are forthcoming as well as updates to private links functionality.
Access to files uploaded but not yet published on figshare.com is limited to the user account that uploaded them. Private links may be generated by a user to provide access to others, however access is available to anyone with the link and is not audited. For published items on figshare.com, access is freely available to all without an account unless an embargo has been applied and this access is not audited. Views and downloads are counted on a per item basis and are logged by IP address but not by user account or any other end user information.
How Figshare meets the Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories for Federally Funded Research
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