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Storage, catalogue, repository and archive - what's the difference?

The terms storage, catalogue, repository and archives are central in research data management, but they can be difficult to separate.

Storage

The term storage only signifies the space in which research data or information is being stored. The information does not need to fit a specific order on a storage unit, even if order may simplify work. This is why storage structures need to be flexible to allow for the shifting need of data organisation as the project develops.

It is important to be aware that cloud services are generally not sufficiently secure for sensitive data. Please contact ITS as the university expert in finding suitable storage solutions.

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Catalogue

A catalogue is a collection of metadata describing the contents. Metadata and contents can be located in the same resource, but the contents can also be stored in a separate location to where the catalogue is stored. The same metadata can be stored in several catalogues.

National research data catalogue (The Swedish National Data Service, SND)

Register research data in the SND catalogue

Repository

A repository is a way of managing and organising research data and includes the catalogue, storage, curation of data and making data accessible over time. The repository contains organised and to some extent packaged information. Repositories are suitable particularly for "finalised" research data in which the work with, and hence also the description of data, has stabilised and is not likely to be altered again.

Project data does not need to be openly accessible in the repository, but what is important is that the repository contains metadata about the research data in a way that enables others to understand how to find the project data and what limitations are set on access. This means that it may be possible to be generous with metadata, but at the same time protect and limit the access to research data.

Both archives and repositories can be physical or digital and often contain some form of storage, but the word repository is primarily used for digital resources.

Archives

An archive is a place and a structure for long-term storage and preservation closely linked with a repository in the sense that it is an organised and structured resource. A proper archive, such as the archive at the university, is also responsible for complying with the Swedish Archives Act.

Archiving research material

Legal Affairs Office

 

Phases of research project

Initiation of research project
Initiation of research project

To get informed, make strategic considerations and set up a data management plan.

During research project
During research project

To maintain a sound, ordered and consistent management of research data during the research project.

Conclusion of research project
Conclusion of research project

To conclude a research project with well-founded decisions regarding research data.