Publishing research data

There are good reasons to publish not only your study but also the underlying research data. Furthermore, these research data should be usable over many years.

By publishing research data you increase the visibility of your data by making them citable. Furthermore, research funders and journals increasingly ask for publication of the basic data that you collected for your study. As a member of ETH Zurich you are entitled to publish your research data in the Research Collection (external link), the publication platform of ETH Zurich.

For the automatic submission of bigger data volumes, the ETH Data Archive offers dedicated interfaces. In both repositories, your data will automatically receive a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and therefore, they will become quotable permanently.

Even before you submit your data we will be happy to advise you regarding file format questions, legal aspects of data publication, as well as creating a data management plan within the context of your research project.

Although the ETH Zurich does not make it mandatory for members to publish their data, publishing is required by some funding agencies. Nevertheless, publishing their data offers some advantages to researchers:

If your data is in a standard file format, we will seek to maintain its usability.

The choice of appropriate file formats (external link) will improve the usability of your data. We thus suggest to already select appropriate file formats in your data management plan (external link). You may also consider converting your data into a file format with a longer lifespan.

Nevertheless, it is not required for publication in the repositories of ETH Zurich to use file formats that offer long-term usability.

All employees that contributed to a study have to give their written consent to publishing the data. Only the owner of data, or persons that are entitled by the owner, are eligible to upload data.

If the study is still in the initial phase, we recommend writing and maintaining a data management plan to clarify analysis and archiving of the data for all of the involved researchers. Some funding organisations request that a data management plan is submitted with the project proposal. Our Data Management Checklist (external link) may support you with creating a data management plan.

In addition to the Research Collection (external link) and the ETH Data Archive, there are many specialized research data repositories. We refer to an overview of such repositories (external link), provided by PLoS. If the files are in a format that is well-established in your field of research, we recommend publishing in a repository that is experienced in handling this file format. A large number of subject-specific and institutional repositories can be found in the re3data index (external link).

In the following, we present the Research Collection and the ETH Data Archive and clarify, for which use cases each of the platforms is convenient.

Submission into the Research Collection

The Research Collection is the publication platform of ETH Zurich and is the single point of access for documentation, publication and archiving of the scientific output for members of ETH Zurich. The Research Collection unites the functions of a university bibliography, an open-access repository and a research data repository within one platform. So far, it concentrates and enlarges the range of services of the former ETH E-Collection and as well as ETH E-Citations.

All data that was produced in the context of your research at the ETH Zurich, can be published and archived in the Research Collection.

As a data producer, you can choose all crucial parameters of publication like access rights (external link) and end user license by yourself.

After an internal validation process through staff of ETH Library, your data will be published soon.

What does the Research Collection offer to data producers?

  • Flexible access rights starting from "open access" to "access upon request".
  • Registration of DOI and DOI advance assignment (external link).
  • Download statistics and altmetrics for your published data.
  • All formats are authorized for upload.
  • Content preview for ZIP- and tar-container.
  • Connection with GrantIDs of EU- and SNF-projects as well as exports into the EU-portal OpenAIRE.
  • Long-term accessibility of data.

Further information can be found in the Research Collection Manual (external link).

Video Tutorial: How to publish in the Research Collection

In our new tutorial, we explain step-by-step what the submission process looks like and what you should consider when submitting research data.

Submission into the ETH Data Archive

Mainly as dark archive, the ETH Data Archive serves as backbone of data curation of the Research Collection and is designed correspondingly.

Therefore, the Research Collection is the primary service for you and your first point of contact for publication of your data at ETH Zurich. In the following cases, a data upload into the ETH Data Archive has to be considered:

If you would like to regularly archive data and corresponding metadata produced by a specific application (e.g. from a LIMS or similar), we may offer a suitable interface to the ETH Data Archive or help setting one up.

We provide you with the local file editor docuteam packer (external link). 

Docuteam packer offers functions that enable you to structure, describe and organise your data for an upload into the ETH Data Archive and its only you that decides when the work should be done. Further on, archival packages can also be built and described collaboratively by several persons.

If you are interested, please contact us for a non-binding consultation.

Further information on the services of the ETH Data Archive are to be seen on this site describing the Digital Curation Office's services.

Additional information

Open research data means data (in processed or unprocessed form) that resulted from scientific research and is openly available for re-use on the internet to anyone who is interested.

According to the open-access policy of ETH Zurich, staff of ETH Zurich is called to publish their publication open access. Research funders like the EU-Horizon 2020 already ask for the publication of data explicitly or have announced to do so in the future (see Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)).

In order for research data to be rendered accessible openly, ideally, it should not be subject to any restrictions through data protection, exploitation rights or patent rights. Existing copyrights remain unaffected. The concrete conditions of re-use are governed by the use of open content licences.

When you submit your data you can select among several access rights options:

  • Open access: free access
  • Embargo: Worldwide free access after passing an embargo period of your choice
  • Members of ETH Zurich: Access only with nethz login (external link) in case of the Research Collection (external link) or from the IP-range of ETH Zurich in case of the ETH Data Archive
  • Chosen users: access for a defined group of people
  • Closed Access: Deposit for archiving matters only. Access only for the person submitting, and authorized experts of ETH library

In case of access restrictions, unauthorized persons can request the access to the data through "request access". The Research Collection staff will forward your request to the respective owner, if the owner is still working at ETH Zurich.

In any case, the descriptive metadata of your Research Data will be shown and can be found in the Research Collection.

Evaluation of usage

  • Research Collection: On the landing page of your data package in the Research Collection, you can see the access figures for your data on a daily basis.
  • ETH Data Archive: Upon request, you will receive access figures for your data.

The shortest storage period for research data in the Research Collection and the ETH Data Archive is ten years. After the period chosen will have passed, the ETH Zurich University Archives will be entitled to decide, whether your data should be further stored for historical reasons by the Archive. For a usage of over ten years, widely spread and rather open data formats should be used.

For shorter storage periods, we gladly arrange contact with the IT-Services of ETH Zurich (external link) respectively the IT-Support of your department.

It is expected that researchers carry on a justifiable expenditure to clear up their data and to provide metadata like author, title, subject etc. (example of metadata in the ETH Data Archive). These Metadata allow you to find your data with a search in the Research Collection (external link), the knowledge portal of ETH Library as well as other search engines and further on, they will support you in keeping the overview over your data.

The documentation in terms of content is also a part of the metadata that will support the reuse of your data. Kindly find further information in the section "Choice of an appropriate file format".

Folder structures should be submitted as ZIP or tar files (up to 2 GB per ZIP or tar, maximal path length of about 200 characters, no special characters in file names (external link).

The publication or archiving of data is offered by ETH Library as a free service.

All research data that was published in the Research Collection (external link) and the ETH Data Archive contains a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and can, therefore, be permanently addressed and cited.

We recommend to cite a research data set with the following minimum particulars:

Creator (PublicationYear): Title. Publisher. Identifier

Swaminathan, R., Ramya, T., Karthik, C.S. (2013): Contortrostatin-Reprolysin Domain Structure. Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. (external link).

For additional information on the proper citation of research data we recommend consulting the DataCite website (external link).

If you wish to receive a DOI in advance in order to refer to in a publication or for the submission of a manuscript, you can reserve a DOI (external link) in the Research Collection.