Open Data: What does this mean to you?

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By the USIU-Africa Library and Information Center


Open Data exists within the broader context of Open Research. It refers to that data which is open for anyone to access, modify, reuse, and share in support of an increasingly data-driven world. The impetus behind making research data openly accessible goes beyond making it free of restrictions such as paywalls.

USIU-Africa acknowledges the importance of and supports Open Data and Open Access. We are committed to raising the visibility of scholarship, accelerating research and turning breakthroughs into better lives. Some of the benefits of Open Data include:

  • Improvements in the quality of research data;
  • Compliance with certain ethical and legal requirements;
  • A reduction in the duplication of data collection efforts;
  • An increase in the diffusion of information and ultimately knowledge throughout society and
  • The broader dissemination of research data.

What is a research data repository?
The best way to publish and share research data is with a research data repository. A repository is an online database that allows research data to be preserved across time and helps others find it. Here are 5 major repositories that you could consider and can access through the Library:
1. Figshare is an open access data repository where researchers can preserve their research outputs, such as datasets, images, and videos and make them discoverable. It allows researchers to upload any file format and assigns a digital object identifier (DOI) for citations. Figshare releases' The State of Open Data' every year to assess the changing academic landscape around open research. Free accounts on Figshare can upload files of up to 5gb 5 GB and get 20gb 20 GB of free storage.

2. Mendeley Data is an open research data repository, where researchers can store and share their data. Datasets can be shared privately between individuals, as well as publicly with the world. Datasets uploaded to Mendeley Data go into a moderation process where they are reviewed. This ensures the content constitutes research data, is scientific, and does not contain a previously published research article. Researchers can upload and store their work free of cost on Mendeley Data.

3. Dryad Digital Repository is a curated general-purpose repository that makes data discoverable, freely reusable, and citable. Since the guiding principle of Dryad is to make its contents freely available for research and educational use, there are no access costs for individual users or institutions. Instead, Dryad supports its operations by charging a $120 fee each time data is published.

4. Harvard Dataverse is an online data repository where scientists can preserve, share, cite and explore research data. Researchers, journals and institutions may choose to install the Dataverse web application on their own server or use Harvard's installation. Harvard Dataverse is open to all scientific data from all disciplines. It is free and has a limit of 2.5 GB per file and 10 GB per dataset.

5. Zenodo is a general-purpose open-access repository developed under the European OpenAIRE program and operated by CERN. Zenodo has no restriction on the file type that researchers may upload and accepts dataset of up to 50 GB.


Research data can save lives, help develop solutions and maximize our knowledge. Promoting collaboration and cooperation among a global research community is the first step to reduce the burden of wasted research. As the Library, we remain committed to helping you know how to use open data in your research, while preserving your data as you make it open to the world.

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