Publish your research data

Preparing your research data for public sharing (if applicable) is an important component of planning for data management. Most funding agencies and research institutions have begun to require that researchers publish their data online. Increasing numbers of journal publishers are also requiring research data that supports publications to be shared by depositing with openly accessible online repositories. Any associated research software or code that you have developed can also be published.  

There are benefits to sharing your data or software by publishing it: 

  • Improve research quality and impact with greater research transparency; invite external review and validation of your research methods, and broaden public and community engagement with research processes and results. 
  • Facilitate evidence-based social policy decisions, limit redundant data collection, and improve research efficiency for publicly-funded projects.
  • Increase your chances of being cited, getting credit for your research contributions and greater impact in your field.

Publishing your research data in a dedicated online repository also ensures that your digital files remain accessible and readable over the long term. As a researcher, you have several options for publishing your data or software online: there are institutional repositories affiliated to universities or research institutions, external data archives, and subject-specific data repositories.  

Not all data can be published; well-established ethical guidelines related to Indigenous data sovereignty, the risk of harm, confidentiality, data security, and other legal considerations might need to be followed.  

Publishing options

Publishing research data or software involves making the relevant files available to the public, often to support related published research (such as an article in an academic journal).

In addition, several peer-reviewed article submission types or entire journals are devoted solely to the description and publication of datasets or of research software -- examples include the Data Notes in BMC Research Notes, the journals Earth System Science Data, Scientific Data, the Journal of Open Archaeology DataData in Brief and the Journal of Open Source Software. The Web of Science database also gives an option to search for 'Data Papers' as a document type across all indexed publications.

To publish your data or code, make sure to:

Note that although personal cloud storage (e.g., SFU OneDrive or Google Drive) might be useful for storage of your data while in the collection or processing stages, they are not recommended as data publishing solutions. 

The Canadian Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR)

The FRDR platform provides a repository option for Canadian research data. FRDR is supported by the Digital Research Alliance of Canada and provides data deposit, curation, and preservation services that comply with institutional and funding agency data management requirements. To publish your data in the SFU Research Data collection at FRDR, contact us at or follow their deposit documentation. FRDR allows for (anonymous) peer review of your dataset, supporting the submission of a related publication.  

Other recognized and trusted data repositories

Depending on the convention for your discipline, you may want to deposit your data in a discipline-specific repository. Most granting agency requirements stipulate the use of an openly accessible data repository, so make sure you use one that satisfies the policy requirements.

The registry provides searchable discovery and access to discipline-specific data repositories, enabling researchers to identify platforms for data curation and access that best meets the needs of their area of study. Use this service to get a sense of the kinds of data repository options available that specialize in your research area.

Other well-regarded and recognized data repositories include:  

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)

The preeminent North American Social Science data repository, ICPSR primarily accepts tabular data formats from the social sciences. All deposited files are manually reviewed for errors in the data. ICPSR is supported by a subscription model, and SFU Library is a member of this consortium.


Developed by OpenAIRE in Europe, Zenodo is an open-access data repository for various subject areas, and includes both datasets as well as software and code.


Dryad is an openly accessible research data repository that typically accepts data from the natural and biological sciences.

Licensing research data and software

When you publish your research data or software online, it is important to select an appropriate license for its use. The Copyright Office at SFU Library provides guidance on copyright and licensing using Creative Commons tools. The following resources have more comprehensive options. 

Open Data Commons Licenses
Discussion of open data commons licenses.

Choose an open source license
A simple and effective resource that guides you through selecting a software license.

Open Source Initiative
A searchable index of reviewed and approved open source software licenses that includes their full text. 

For information on applying more restrictive licenses, contact the legal and contract team at SFU Research Services

Citing a dataset or software

Research datasets and software can be cited in the same way as any other published research outputs. Citations provide information to help researchers accurately locate a data source or software, which is a fundamental part of research reproducibility and transparency. They also provide a way to properly acknowledge researchers, data authors, and software developers for their original research outputs.

To cite a research dataset make sure to include some key details, including: creator/author, date created, title, publisher, and identifier (such as a digital object identifier, or DOI). A simple template of a dataset citation is

  • Creator (PublicationYear). Title. Publisher. [optional ResourceType]. Identifier

For example 

  • Wilcox, K., Wagner, M., Reynolds, J. (2021). Salmon subsidies predict territory size and habitat selection of an avian insectivore. Federated Research Data Repository.
A similar template could be used for software citation, by including a version number: 
  • Creator (PublicationYear). Title. (Version number). Publisher. [optional ResourceType]. Identifier

For example

The guide for citing Statistics Canada data and the guide for citing geospatial data provide additional information on citing datasets.

Most online data repositories automatically generate a preferred citation format for their datasets or digital objects, and display this alongside the dataset.