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Syracuse University Libraries

Research Data Services: Data Curation

Online Research Tools

Researchers may find the following tools useful in their work. Emphasis is given to free (or at least having free components) and online tools or services.

Electronic Lab Notebooks:


  • ELN at Harvard Medical School - The Electronic Lab Notebook Matrix has been created to aid researchers in the process of identifying a usable Electronic Lab Notebook solutions to meet their specific research needs. Through this resource, researchers can compare and contrast the numerous solutions available today, and also explore individual options in-depth.
  • RSpace - An ELN for researchers to organize, manage and collaborate on their projects.
  • Docollab - Project management system, collaboration.
  • Benchling - Life Sciences focused experiment, lab and project management.

Data Analysis/Visualization:

  • TableauPublic - Free version of their desktop and online data visualization platform. All data uploaded to TableauPublic is available to everyone on the Internet. The paid versions allow restricted access.
  • StatCrunch - Simple online data analysis and survey package.
  • Dataviz - Data visualization for time, geographic and comparative data.
  • OpenRefine - Data cleaning and exploration tool.

Directories of Research Tools:

Data Curation

Research Data Services can assist you in preparing your data for publishing as well as finding a suitable repository in which to place it. Given that different repositories have different rules regarding what can be stored and how, we strongly recommend that you consult with us as early in the research process as possible. Also, be aware that most repositories have a size limit for individual files as well as total size limit for all files in a project. Below are some links to help you get started:


Choosing among the many repositories can be a rather daunting task. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • Is the repository a reputable source? Don’t put your data just anywhere just to fulfill the terms of your grant. After doing all that work, why not get the most out of it by putting it in a repository that will preserve your data and make it discoverable? Repositories that other researchers in your discipline are a good place to start. Make sure it is endorsed by a funding agency, scholarly journal, professional society, library, or if it is listed in the Registry of Research Data Repositories. Other things to consider are how long the repository has been in existence, how much data are archived there and how often that data has been downloaded.
  • You also want other researchers to be able to find your data! Two very important steps in this is making sure the file has a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and proper metadata. A DOI is a permanent identifier that will always apply to your data regardless of where it is stored. This allows others to properly cite your data and allow even more researchers to find your data. Metadata is the information about the files - filename, creation date, size, etc. (as well as a codebook, questionnaires, programs, etc needed to make proper use of the data). Metadata is used to not only describe your data, but make it findable by common search engines as well as the search function of the repository.

  • What file formats does the repository allow? Your data may be in a special format having been collected by specialized lab equipment. You will need to make sure that the repository can handle the types of files you have produced.

  • What are your legal rights? Be sure you have read and understand the terms of service for the repository. Do you need to transfer copyright of your data? Who owns the data once you deposit it? What of you want or need to remove the data? Along the same lines, what license agreements can you place on your data allowing how others can use it? There are dozens of different kinds of licenses such as those from Creative Commons as well as some pertaining specifically to computer programs and other types of files. You want to make sure you use the license appropriate for your project, funder and journal.

  • How sustainable is the repository? Will the repository be in existence 5, 10 or even 20 years from now? How is it being funded? What will happen to your data if the repository closes? What kind of preservation/disaster plans do they have? What does the repository do to ensure the integrity of the files - do they make regular checks that they have not been corrupted and therefore unusable?

  • What features does it have beyond just storing your data? Several repositories can integrate with other services such as Github and DMPTool to better streamline your research project. You certainly will want one that can at least track how many people view or download you data. You’ll also want to choose a repository that is easy to use - for you and the people who want to use your data.

  • Are there any costs involved? Most repositories will provide free storage up to a certain amount, then charge for everything above that. Some others will have a one-time charge regardless of how much storage you need. Most grants will allow you to include this cost in the budget, but, of course, you will need an estimate of how much storage you will need and which repository you will use.