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ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political & Social Research)

Why Should I Share Data?

Archiving data with ICPSR ensures the long-term preservation of data, protecting it from obsolescence, loss, or irreversible damage. Another advantage of archiving data with ICPSR is that our trained staff are available to provide user support. In addition, research funding agencies — including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) — are increasingly recommending or requiring that all funded projects contain plans for sharing and managing data. Archiving with ICPSR, which continually adheres to prevailing standards and practice for long-term preservation, can meet those requirements

What is openICPSR

  • Share your research data with the public to fulfill your organization's governmental grant requirements
  • Brand your research data-sharing service with your logo, colors, and unique URL

  • Demonstrate research transparency by making data available for replication and providing live links to publications

  • Provide your research scientists with DOIs and data citations upon deposit

  • Increase exposure and reach of your institution's research via professionally reviewed metadata, inclusion in ICPSR's data catalog, and integration with your institution's social media

  • Administer your data repository economically and easily without the need for additional technical staff or equipment and with a dashboard of usage reports available on demand

  • Share and preserve restricted-use (sensitive) data securely and with confidence

  • Trust that your research data are safe for the long term as your repository is backed by over 50 years of sustained experience from ICPSR at the University of Michigan -- the world's largest archive of social and behavioral science research data

What Format is the Data Shared

Most of ICPSR's data files are ASCII fixed-format files.   The structure of a data file defines how records, or rows of data, are related to fields, or columns of data. The most common data structures found in the ICPSR holdings are:


  • Rectangular or Logical Record
  • Card Image or Multiple Record
  • Hierarchical Relational

Sharing Research Data and Intellectual Property Law

In this context or in the drafting of data management plans, common questions are (1) what are the legal rights in data; (2) who has these rights; and (3) how does one with these rights use them to share data in a way that permits or encourages productive downstream uses? Leaving to the side privacy and national security laws that regulate sharing certain types of data, this Perspective explains how to work through the general intellectual property and contractual issues for all research data.

Carroll MW (2015) Sharing Research Data and Intellectual Property Law: A Primer. PLoS Biol 13(8): e1002235.