Preservation & sharing

UNIL, together with the University of Zurich, is actively participating in the SWISSUBase project led by the Swiss Competence Centre for Social Sciences (FORS), which aims to provide a general, open and sustainable data repository to comply with the FAIR Data Principles, i. e. data that is easy to find, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

This institutional repository will have a strong disciplinary approach, but also a generalist one. It will allow for long-term data sharing and archiving and is expected to be accessible to the linguistic community in the spring of 2021 before opening up to other disciplines.

Backup, storage and security : what are the differences ?

Secure storage of your search data and regular backups are essential during your research project.

  • Backup consists of creating additional copies of your current data. It is essential to avoid the risk of data loss due to accidental erasure, hard disk failure, theft or damage to equipment. Files stored on your desktop are not automatically backed up. For more information, see UNIL's Crashplan backup system for your workstation.
  • Data storage refers to where and how you store your data. It is about :
    • select the appropriate file formats (for example, choose between options such as plain text, rich text or open and non-proprietary formats) ;
    • select the appropriate medium for the physical storage of data (e. g. hard disks, CD-ROMs, network storage and servers, etc.).
  • Security is about protecting your data. This means from :
    • ensure that data is not lost and corrupted ;
    • control access to your data as appropriate. This can be done in a variety of ways, including physical security (e.g., storing data in a locked room), file password protection and encryption.

How to archive your data ?

Data archiving is not to be considered as storage or backup. Archiving takes place after the end of a research project and aims a preservation ad aeternam. It must be accompanied by management rules that allow for the possible reuse of data over time, as well as their proper understanding and contextualisation (metadata). This is why it is important to ensure that open and non-proprietary file standards are used (see UK Data Service recommendations), as well as classification and naming rules (see organize your data).

The Data Management Plan is a tool that allows you not only to manage your data during the project, but also to ensure its proper management over time (after the end of the project).

In principle, publication-related data must be deposited for archiving and sharing on a non-commercial repository that complies with FAIR principles, subject to other requirements formulated by the research funding agency. Data not related to a publication can be store on the Ci Long term storage infrastructure (contact the Calculation and Research Support Division). According to Directive 4.5, the cost of archiving and of long term storage are covered by UNIL.

The sorting and destruction of research data is the responsibility of the researchers. In the event that UNIL has an interest in keeping research data whose destruction is desired by a researcher, UNIRIS shall determine, in agreement with the researcher, whether it is appropriate to archive or destroy, in whole or in part, the research data concerned.

How do you know what to keep and what to delete ?

A number of questions can help you to know what data should be kept, namely :

  • Does my funder or the University need me to keep this data and/or make it available for a certain period of time ?
  • Does this data constitute the essential documents of a project, organization or consortium and therefore need to be kept indefinitely ?
  • Do I have the legal and intellectual property rights to store and reuse this data? If not, can it be negotiated ?
  • Is the documentation and descriptive information (metadata) sufficient to explain the data and allow the data or documents to be found, regardless of their location ?
  • If I need to pay to keep the data, can I afford it ?

(source: UNIGE, based on documents designed by the Digital Curation Center)

How to share your data ?

In a similar way to scientific publications, data sharing can be carried out via a general repository or a disciplinary repository.

It is strongly recommended to share your data in a FAIR and non-commercial repository. In order to facilitate the transition to FAIR data, the SNSF has defined a set of minimum criteria that data repositories must meet in order to comply with the FAIR principles. A checklist has been produced by the SNSF. The aim is to answer positively to the following questions :

Are unique and durable identifiers (e. g. DOI) assigned globally to the datasets (or ideally to the files in the dataset) ?
Does the database allow loading of intrinsic metadata (e. g. author's name, data set content, associated publications, etc.) and those defined by the person submitting the data (e. g. definition of variables, etc.) ?
Is the license (CC0, CC BY, etc.) under which the data will be accessible clearly mentioned or can the user download/select a license ?
Are citations and metadata always publicly accessible (even in the case of restricted datasets) ?
Does the database provide a submission form requiring that the intrinsic metadata follow a specific format (to ensure their automatic use/interoperability) ?
Does the database have a long-term preservation plan for the archived data ?

The re3data.org website lists most of the databases and their characteristics.

Which data repositories at UNIL ?

In the long term and pending an institutional repository equivalent to SERVAL for data (see SWISSUbase project infra), UNIL could recommend the use of the general repository ZENODO developed by CERN and funded by the European Union. Each faculty of the University should be able to animate its faculty community there, thus offering researchers in its faculty the possibility of depositing and sharing its data. Contact your research consultant for more information.

FORSBase for social and political sciences

For data in social and political sciences, UNIL recommends the use of FORSBase, developed by FORS, the Swiss Centre of Competence in Social Sciences.

The centre produces data from national and international surveys. It provides tools for information infrastructure and a consultation service for researchers.

UNIL is currently working with FORS and UNIZH to develop a repository of thematic and generalist data to manage the research data produced at UNIL (SWISSUbase).

PlaTec for qualitative data in the humanities and social sciences

PlaTec is the satellite of the DaSCH (Data and Service Center for the Humanities), an institution of the Academy of Human and Social Sciences, for French-speaking Switzerland. As such, it ensures the long-term accessibility and archiving of SHS research data as part of a digital infrastructure and service centre deployed at the national level.

PlaTec supports researchers in the management of their research data and databases. It provides researchers with the DaSCH infrastructure (Knora, Salsah, Sipi) and other services (supervision, support, evaluation, etc.).

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Did you know ?

29% of UNIL researchers believe that their data should be kept ad eternam.

UNIL's Research Data Survey, 2015

Archiving formats

  • Web Archive: WARC
  • Containers: TAR, GZIP, ZIP
  • Databases: XML, CSV
  • Tabular data: CSV
  • Films: MOV, MPEG, AVI, MXF
  • Geospatial: SHP, DBF, GeoTIFF, NetCDF
  • Images: TIFF, JPEG 2000, PDF, PNG, GIF, BMP
  • Sounds: WAVE, AIFF, MP3, MXF
  • Statistics: ASCII, DTA, POR, SAS, SAV
  • Text: XML, PDF/A, HTML, ASCII, UTF-8

source : Bibliothèque de Stanford

Data life cycle

To better understand the challenges of data storage, archiving and sharing, see the concept of the data life cycle.

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