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Depositing data in the Oxford Research Archive (ORA): How to deposit

Purpose of this guide

Use this page to find out how to deposit data in ORA via Symplectic Elements and to view a list of frequently asked questions.

How to deposit data in ORA

From 23 May 2023 deposit of research data in ORA will be moving to Symplectic Elements - if you require a Symplectic Elements account, please contact, and for further guidance see

Symplectic Elements is a University system that holds details about staff research outputs (including research data) and is available to all University staff using the University Single Sign On (SSO).  It is the means of deposit of datasets to the Oxford Research Archive (ORA) and, once deposited, ORA staff will review the metadata, publish the data, and assign a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) where required.

To deposit research data in ORA, go to the Symplectic Elements homepage using your SSO and scroll down to ‘Research Outputs’, and then click ‘+ Add New’ in the bottom left-hand corner.  Then select ‘Dataset’ from the grid of different types of research output, and this will takes you to a 3-step process for completing the data form:

Step 1: to add a title (or search for a dataset you have already saved but not deposited);

Step 2: to complete the rest of the data form (please complete as much of this as you can, including the additional information toward the bottom of the form);

Step 3: link your record to specific funding.

Upon completion, click ‘Save’ and you will have the option to ‘Deposit’ (i.e. upload) the dataset and submit it for review in ORA.

NB: For larger deposits (single files over 2GB or multiple files totalling more than 5GB), we ask the depositor to create only a record using the self-deposit system but to contact the ORA team in order to arrange separate upload of the dataset.

NB: If you are looking to create only a record in ORA for data held elsewhere (i.e. you are not actually uploading a dataset), we ask that you upload a readme.txt file with a brief description of the data, even if you have already included a description in the record's metadata (some sort of file upload is required in order for the system to migrate records from Symplectic Elements to ORA).

For further information and user guides, please see the Symplectic Elements at Oxford webpages and/or the ORA Libguide webpage on using Symplectic Elements.

Frequently asked questions

1.   What if my data exceeds 2GB in size?

Although at the moment only single files up to 2GB (or multiple files totalling up to 5GB) can be uploaded at once via the online deposit form, we can still accept larger datasets in ORA. To deposit individual files over 2GB in size (or multiple files over 5GB), please contact us for details of an alternative file transfer process:

2.   Which file formats can I deposit?

We accept any file type in ORA, but you may wish to consider which formats will ensure the broadest possible accessibility by others, both now and in the future. To help future-proof your data you may wish to deposit more than one format of the same item. E.g. plain text files (such as .txt; .csv; .html; .xml) are both human and machine readable, and can be opened in any operating system by a wide range of applications, unlike some proprietary software formats. For more information, you may like to read the Jisc Digital Media guidance on choosing digital file formats:

3.   Can I edit my record after I have submitted it?

Once you press ‘submit’ your record will be sent to our review team to check through before it is published online in ORA. If you then realise that you wish to make a change, please get in touch with us at and we will endeavour to make the amendment on your behalf.  Be aware, however, that a dataset and some selected record fields may not be amended following publication if a DOI has been registered.

4.   How can researchers access or use the datasets?

Other researchers will be able to find your datasets in a variety of ways, including: following a DOI citation link; searching the ORA catalogue directly; and searching for your work online (ORA is crawled by Google and other search engines, and records also appear in the Bodleian Libraries’ online catalogue, SOLO). Once someone has found a dataset they wish to use in ORA, they will be able to click the ‘download’ link to retrieve the files.

5.    How should researchers cite a dataset?

We advise researchers to follow the guidelines outlined by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) in Ball, A. & Duke, M. (2015). ‘How to Cite Datasets and Link to Publications’. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre, available online at

An example of citation for an existing ORA data deposit is as follows:

Tomkins, D. & Jackson, A. (2015) “Ephemera and the British Empire - colour illustrations”. Oxford University Research Archive. doi: 10.5287/bodleian:xp68kg235

6.    For how long will ORA guarantee data storage?

We will make every effort to retain items in the long-term, and will guarantee at least ten years of storage/availability of the data (in line with the EPSRC’s requirements for data preservation). If a depositor leaves the University, their data deposit will be retained in ORA.

7.    How much storage does the Bodleian have available for data?

The Bodleian has made 20TB of storage space available for data deposits, but the intention is that this will be increased as necessary subject to University funding.

8.   Who can I nominate to look after my data deposit if I move jobs?

We strongly advise that everyone depositing data with us nominates a data steward who can potentially help look after the data in the future. We suggest that the responsibility of being a data steward is linked to a particular role rather than to the individual currently holding that position, e.g. your data steward might thus be your ‘Head of Department’ or ‘Faculty Data Manager’ rather than ‘Professor X’. This is to try and ensure that even if the individual acting as your data steward moves on in his/her career, the responsibility of data stewardship will be transferred to the next person to hold the post.

9.   Is a DOI the best way to link my data files to a publication?

DOIs are certainly recommended by RCUK funders for citing data files in a publication. For example, the EPSRC's policy framework on research data management ( states that: 'Published research papers should include a short statement describing how and on what terms any supporting research data may be accessed... This expectation is consistent with the RCUK policy on Open Access, and applies to all papers which acknowledge EPSRC funding with a publication date after 1 May 2015... The expectation could be satisfied by citing such data in the published research and including in such citations direct links to the data or to supporting documentation that describes the data in detail, how it may be accessed and any constraints that may apply. It is important that such links are persistent URLs such as DOIs'.

10.   Will the DOI be updated if I later upload a modified version of my data?

The DOI will always point to the ORA data record about your data (with links to download the files). The DOIs we issue contain version information about the dataset, so if you wished to deposit a modified version of your files at a later stage we would treat this as a separate deposit, create a new catalogue record and issue you with a new DOI for the new version of the dataset. You would then in effect have version 1.0 and version 2.0 of your data stored in ORA, and either could be cited by yourself or others using the relevant DOI.

11.   Does ORA record download statistics for my data deposit?

ORA will be tracking download statistics for all deposits with us, but not to the level of identifying users – you will be able to know how many people have viewed your record or downloaded your files, but not who they are.

12.   Is my data big enough to be considered data, as I only have several kilobytes I want to deposit?

We accept any type of digital research data, from across all academic disciplines, and in any file format, with no minimum deposit size.

Depositing to ORA using Symplectic Elements

Depositing large files

Single files of up to 2GB (or multiple files totalling up to 5GB) can be submitted via the self-deposit form, either as individual files or zipped folders.

To deposit individual files over 2GB in size (or multiple files over 5GB), please contact us for details of an alternative file transfer process.

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