Research repository launches new data platform

St. Edward’s University adopts solution to showcase digital humanities content.

data-researchFigshare, an online digital repository for academic researchers, has launched the next generation of its research data management platform, Figshare for Institutions, developed to address the specific needs of academic institutions to store research data securely.

The platform has piloted at institutions in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and mainland Europe, and supports their needs for better storage, preservation, accessibility and publication of the outputs produced by their researchers.

The platform integrates into existing workflows, offers institutional single sign on systems and focuses on simplicity, so as not to add to the administrative burden on researchers. The newly created ‘collections’ functionality allows any openly available Figshare content to be grouped together as one citable unit, giving institutions and researchers a new way to organize and present related material.

(Next page: New functionality features)

New functionality includes:
● Portals that showcase research of an institution or department
● Ability to group content into collections
● Data curation and administrative workflows
● Flexible storage options
● Increased file upload limits
● Enhanced content discoverability through a revamped search, categorization and metadata

St. Edward’s University is the first academic institution in the U.S. to adopt the Figshare platform and will be using it to showcase its digital humanities content.

“We looked at the different options on the market, including building it ourselves using open source software, but nothing offers the extensive functionality and scalability that Figshare does.” said Pongracz Sennyey, Library Director at St. Edward’s University.

“For more than four years we have played an instrumental role in the overall research community promoting open data, while understanding that some sensitive data, such as patient data, must remain private,” said Mark Hahnel, CEO and founder of Figshare. “We have worked closely with our institutional partners to develop a system that addresses these specific requirements to store research data securely while providing controlled access where appropriate. With the company’s core philosophy rooted in the open research movement, where possible, we encourage the publication of data to maximize the impact and benefit to the wider research community to enable more transparent and reproducible results.”

Through close partnerships with early adopters, including Auckland University, Brunel University, Loughborough University, Melbourne University, Monash University, Salford University, Sheffield University and Stockholm University, Figshare has developed a system that is intended to meet institutions’ needs for better management and control of research outputs while complying with funders’ open data mandates.

One pilot partner, Monash University, Australia, will be using the collections feature to showcase the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU), a physical and digital collection of musical instruments, scores, field recordings, and diverse other musical materials acquired since the foundation of the University’s original Department of Music in 1965.

Prof Margaret Kartomi, MAMU’s Founding Director, said: “We at MAMU are pleased to have been able to help the Library develop and upload our extensive audio, audio-visual and material content into Figshare over the past year. Being able to group the outputs together in our collections of musical instruments, textiles, masks, puppets, artefacts, images, moving images, sound recordings, music notations, maps, field-notes, drawings and paintings is a great way for users to discover and navigate the content.”

By providing a sanctioned and secure place to store data, institutions encourage researchers to move away from using generic cloud based storage, USB sticks and other poor data management practices that jeopardize the security and longevity of those data sets. The private project spaces give researchers a tailor-made solution for sharing and collaborating on their active data. The metrics and reporting dashboard offers institutions unprecedented insight into the outputs being produced and the collaborations being undertaken by their researchers. In addition, the data curation workflows give the institution control over what data is made public and to ensure objects are labeled correctly with appropriate metadata.

Figshare for Institutions operates under an annual subscription license and can provide data storage through Amazon Web Services. Alternatively, Figshare interoperates with existing institutional storage and infrastructure or centrally provided storage such as RDSI in Australia or other third party providers including DuraCloud.

Figshare has a dedicated team across three continents (including the UK, Australia and the United States) and has an extensive roadmap of features which will be introduced to the product over the coming years and months. The platform has reimagined what a repository can do for an institution and has the potential to revolutionize the way the research community manages and disseminates data.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione