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Publication of Research data

FID GEO provides information on the publication of research data for the geoscientific community and offers advice on this topic. At the same time, we offer the service to publish their research data in the field of geosciences. This service is not limited to the publication of data that are the basis of a text publication in a scientific journal. If you would like to publish other data, we will be happy to advise you on this as well.



“Research data are (digital) data that, depending on the scientific context, are related to, originate from, or are the result of a research process.” (Kindling et al. 2013).

Scientific data are created by a variety of methods, depending on the research question. These include studying source material, experiments, measurements, descriptions, surveys, or polls. The data are the basis of scientific results. This results in the recognition of discipline- and project-specific data with different requirements for processing and managing such data.

Since research data are necessary to verify the results based on them, the preservation of such data is a recognised part of good scientific practice (see, for example, “DFG-Leitlinien zum Umgang mit Forschungsdaten” (Guidelines on the handling of research data)).

Research data include measuring data, laboratory results, audio-visual information, texts, survey data, objects from collections or samples that are the result of, were developed, or evaluated during scientific work. Software, simulations or images are also included.

Publishing research data provides opportunities not just for researchers, but also for science in general:

Opportunities for researchers
  • Your research becomes more visible. Publications are cited significantly more often when the data are publicly available (Piwowar and Visions 2013).
  • The publication of research data is gaining more and more recognition as a scientific achievement.
  • You can increase the quality and credibility of your research by offering others a chance to verify your data.
  • You comply with the current requirements of the research funding agencies (see above)
  • You can secure your own research investment by setting blocking periods.
Opportunities for science
  • The publication of data opens up new potentials for research as data become available for re-analysis in the context of new research questions and methods or for combining data from different sources.
  • It also reduces the production of redundant scientific data, which saves time and money.

Research funding agencies and the scientific community increasingly demand Open Access to research data (achieved by publication of data in Open Access) so that published research results can be verified and the data accessed for reuse.

The science ministers of the G8 signed one of the most important international commitments to Open Science in 2013: “…to the greatest extent and with the fewest constraints possible, publicly funded scientific research data should be open […] whilst acknowledging the legitimate concerns of private partners.” (G8 Science Ministers 2013). The German Federal Ministry of Research supports research data management initiatives which includes the publication of research data.

The geoscientific community engages internationally under the leadership of AGU, Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and Research Data Alliance (RDA) in the project Enabling FAIR Data for open and FAIR research data and propagates the publication of research data  in the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement.

Some research funders, like the EU (Pilot on open research data in the HORIZON2020 programme) and the DFG (“Leitlinien zum Umgang mit Forschungsdaten” (Guidelines on the Handling of Research Data), urge scientists to publish research data.

The Registry of Research Data Repositories re3data offers a global overview of data repositories, especially suitable if you search for data. To find data repositories in re3data which A) accept data upload from scientists worldwide and B) adhere to high standards defined by the Enabling FAIR Data project, use Repository Finder, a tool that filters the large re3data database accordingly. You may as well follow our recommendation of three data publication services:

GFZ Data Services

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences cooperates with FID GEO in data publishing. It  issues Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) for data sets since 2004 and publishes data sets in GFZ Data Services, the data repository of GFZ. Almost all geoscientific disciplines are covered by this service.

Datasets are submitted online by the author and are described using an online metadata editor. This editor is easy to use and provides extensive help functions. You may refer to the “Quick Start Guide for Data Publications”.

As a special feature, GFZ Data Services offers the possibility to publish the research data of entire projects or all data records of a particular institution on websites which have the “look and feel” of the respective project or the respective institution. Additionally, GFZ Data Services supports institutions to harvest metadata from the GFZ repository to transfer the data to their own systems, e.g. a university bibliography.


Pangaea is an open access database that archives, publishes and make available georeferenced data from earth and life sciences. Long-term availability of the content is guaranteed through the Pangea’s operating institutions, the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research and the MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen.

Records are electronically uploaded by the authors and described by means of an electronic form. Data and metadata uploads start with a registration and are carried out via a so-called ticket system, which is described in more detail here. It also provides detailed information on data upload, workflow and possible cost sharing.

EarthChem Library

The EarthChem Library is a data repository that archives, publishes and makes accessible geoscientific data and other digital objects. EarthChem Library publishes analytical data, data syntheses, models, technical reports, etc. The EarthChem Library Submission Guidelines provide detailed instructions for submitting research data. Public access to submitted data sets can be restricted with an embargo up to a maximum of 2 years.

Access to data in the EarthChem Library is open (Open Access) under the terms of the Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 3.0. The EarthChem Library ensures long-term availability of its content by working with the Columbia University Libraries Digital Program. Data sets in the library are equipped with a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). The EarthChem Library is part of IEDA, a publishing agent of the DataCite Consortium.

Publishing data means that the data can be accessed and cited. For this purpose, it is important to create a persistent electronic “guide” to make sure that the data can always be found on the Internet, even if the web address (URL) under which the data can be accessed changes. Scientific publications usually employ the DOI (digital object identifier) to fulfil this purpose. Our “Frequently Asked Questions” list contains more information on the subject of DOIs and how to create a DOI (we´ll create a DOI for you, indeed).

In order for your data to be found on the Internet, the data must be described in a way that ensures search engines can read the information. This description is realised by means of metadata. Our “Frequently Asked Questions” list contains more information below on the subject of metadata and how you can use metadata to describe your data set. For other people to evaluate and use your data, the data often require another, human-readable  description in addition to the machine-readable metadata.

An electronic licence attached to your data will indicate how other people can reuse your data. The appeal for the use of open licences in science (“Nutzung Offener Lizenzen in der Wissenschaft”) by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany, which is also supported by research funders such as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), recommends open licences. In this context, Creative Commons Licences have proved a good way to publish openly accessible research data. You can choose between several options: a CC BY license, for example, grants other people free use of your data; they can change and even redistribute your data but they always have to include you as the author of the data. In most cases, we recommend this type of licence. Our “Frequently Asked Questions” list contains more information on the subject of electronic licences and on our recommendations.

Most publishers of geoscience journals support the publication of research data, some of them even require it. A great number of publishers have signed the COPDESS “Statement of Commitment“, in which they commit to support the publication of data and to accept citations of data sets in the lists of works cited in scientific articles. Copernicus, Elsevier, Science, SpringerNature and Wiley as well as societies such as the American Geophysical Union, the European Geosciences Union and the Geological Society of London have signed this statement.


Discipline-specific data repositories offer additional benefits that publishers of journals usually do not offer.

For more than 10 years now, publishers have offered the chance to add electronic data supplements to scientific articles. For a long time, this used to be the only option for publishing research data. Now there are data repositories (= special electronic archives for research data only), and these assign great value to the publication of reusable data: the quality of the metadata (and data) is checked by scientists from the corresponding field. Moreover, data repositories have a lot of experience in curation and long-term archiving of data.

This is why even many publishers of journals  now recommend publishing research data through dedicated data repositories and linking the data to the research articles published by them. This recommendation is also part of the COPDESS “Statement of Commitment” signed by, for example, Copernicus, Elsevier, Science, SpringerNature, Wiley and societies such as the American Geophysical Union, the European Geosciences Union and the Geological Society of London.

Yes. And only you decide what others may or may not do with your data. In order to make clear in which way your data may be reused or not, a licence directly connected to the data defines the copyrights and access rights. We will be happy to recommend a suitable licence and advise you on this topic.


Yes. The creator of the data of course has the right of first publication. It is therefore possible to implement embargos, in particular, but not limited to work associated with earning academic credit such as PhD theses. Even though the data are not publicly accessible during the embargo, they can already be published: thanks to the assigned DOI your data can be cited and your data publication can be found by search engines thanks to the assigned metadata.


Research Data Management

In short, research data management encompasses all methods and procedures used to ensure the long-term usability of research data. The publication of data is one part of data management.

The brochure „Einstieg ins Forschungsdatenmanagement in den Geowissenschaften“ (in German) describes the various aspects of research data management and provides many related web links.


We offer advice to researchers and information departments of research institutions on the publication of research data. Journal editors also are facing new responsibilities when researchers want the research data of their text publication to be published electronically. We have compiled a catalogue of "Frequently Asked Questions" on the topic of data publications that will give you initial answers to your questions. If you would like to know more and have further questions, please contact us.

We publish your data

If you would like to publish data via the FID GEO, please contact us. We will discuss the necessary steps with you. Data publication via the FID GEO is carried out together with specialists from GFZ Data Services at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam who are experienced with geoscientific data. GFZ Data Services manages the GFZ data repository and has been publishing datasets with DOIs since 2004.