question mark icon Questions about open data



How can I tell if data I find is open?

Open data is data that can used, reused and redistributed without restriction other than (perhaps) the requirement to attribution or share-alike. The first method is to look on the publisher's website for their terms and conditions regarding use of their data. This may categorically state that they reserve rights to all data, alternatively they may clearly apply an open license to their data. If the situation is ambiguous or unclear somebody may have requested clarification in the past (please check the archive or previous requests before sending a new one). If not, an enquiry can be made through the website.

How should I license my data?

Data licensing functions slightly differently than the licensing of published content. While data can be placed under Creative Commons licenses, these licenses often assume that your work is already fully published and in the form of more traditional content. The Open Data Commons have developed a series of open licenses that are more specific to the particular features of data storage, preservation, sharing, and reuse.

Is my data sensitive?

While we encourage researchers to make their data as open as possible, it is also essential that you understand what types of data may be confidential, protected by federal law, or considered unethical to share without restriction. Often your funding/research coordinator will alert you if your planned data collection will result in data that needs extra security/protection. This includes, but is not limited to: health or genetic information, criminal records, survey data with identifiable subjects, and student or standardized test scores. If you are unclear about the security standards required for your data, you can consult with our Research Data Management Librarian.

How can I protect my data?

Through Protect IU, you can follow Actions you can take to secure sensitive data. This will require you to identify the security needs of your particular dataset.

Where can I store my data?

The Indiana University Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) provides extensive capacity (approximately 42 PB of tape overall) for storing and accessing research data. The SDA is a distributed storage service co-located at IU data centers in Bloomington and Indianapolis, providing IU researchers with large-scale archival or near-line data storage, arranged in large files, with two copies of data made by default (for disaster recovery). You can deposit your data for submission into SDA on our Transmit Data or Media Files to IUScholarWorks page.


There are also a variety of disciplinary open data repositories available for researches in specific fields.