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Archive research data

Ensure that your data is safe in the long term

Archiving data that is no longer actively used by you or your research team will ensure that your data is stored securely to prevent data loss in the long term. Archiving your data will ensure continued access for you, or for others if you choose to publish or share your data.

Archiving options

Archiving eNotebooks

For practical guidance on how to archive data from an eNotebook, please see the resource sheet on Archiving completed eNotebooks.

File formats

When preserving and publishing data it’s essential that all datasets are saved in an appropriate file format to ensure long-term accessibility of data. The file formats you use when working with your data may not be appropriate for archiving or publishing purposes. You should think about capturing data or converting files into formats that are:

  • widely used within your discipline
  • publicly documented, ie the complete file specification is publicly available
  • open and non-proprietary
  • endorsed by standards agencies such as the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO)
  • self-documenting, ie the file itself can include useful metadata
  • unencrypted
  • uncompressed or that use lossless compression

For example:

  • Quantitative research data
    • While you collect and analyse your data, you might need it in a number of different formats: an Excel spreadsheet, a database, an SPSS, SAS, R, MATLAB or other file format native to the specific data analysis software you are using.
    • Once the data’s been collected and the analysis performed, save the data as a comma separated values (.csv) file for long-term storage. Most data software packages provide options for saving data as a comma separated values file. This format is portable across different computing and software platforms and is therefore more resilient to software updates.
  • Image files
    • The uncompressed TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a good choice for long-term preservation of image files. Most image creation software packages provide options for saving images as TIFF files. You should save your image files in this format right from the outset, so that you capture the highest possible quality master image files.
    • While working with your images, you may need to manipulate, share, or embed them in other documents. For these purposes it may be useful to compress your image files into JPEG format so that they’re smaller and easier to send over the internet or embed in analysis project files.

The following table provides general suggestions for suitable file format choices for long-term preservation and for working data. For more specific recommendations, please contact the Digital Curation and Data team for further advice on which file formats to use for long-term preservation, as well as when and how your data should be converted into these formats.

  • Archive
    Preservation Format(s)
    ZIP File Format (.zip)
  • Audio
    Preservation Format(s)
    Broadcast Wave Format (.wav)
  • Images
    Preservation Format(s)
    Tagged Image File Format (.tif, .tiff)
  • Tabular Datasets
    Preservation Format(s)
    Comma Separated Values (.csv)
    Microsoft Excel (.xlsx)
  • Text
    Preservation Format(s)
    Plain Text (UTF-8) (.txt)
    Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Video
    Preservation Format(s)
    Motion JPEG 2000 (.mj2) MPEG-4 (.mp4)

  • Audio
    Preservation Format(s)
    MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (.mp3)
  • Images
    Preservation Format(s)
    JPEG (.jpeg, .jpg)
  • Video
    Preservation Format(s)
    MPEG-4 (compressed) (.mp4)

Further information