Depositing Data

Why Deposit Data with ADA…

There are two main reasons for depositing your research data with the Australian Data Archive:

  • to ensure that your data is preserved for the future, and
  • to enable it to be shared with others for secondary analysis.

There are significant benefits to you as a researcher in depositing your data:

  • Your data will be stored in a safe place, where it is easily accessible, and in a form that can be understood long after the study was originally conducted. This is useful if you are obliged to store the data for several years following the publication of results.
  • The potential impact of your data is greatly increased. Other researchers, even from other disciplines, will be able to use your data (subject to the conditions you specify) to investigate issues that you may not have the desire or resources to pursue.
  • Anyone who publishes results from your data is expected to cite the data file in their publications. This will result in increased citations for you and your colleages.
  • Distribution of the data and documentation is managed without expense to the person who originally conducted the research. If other people become interested in the data, you will not need to be concerned with the cost and inconvenience of providing a copy for them.
  • Publicity for your data – your data is published in the ADA data catalogue, raising the profile of your research.
  • Sharing data through ADA allows you to get in touch with other researchers with similar research data interests to you.
  • You can find your own data in future. Should you have difficulties in locating or accessing your data in the future, you will have a preserved version of the data held with ADA.
  • Your data will be given a global persistent identifier in the form of a DOI in the ADA Dataverse.
  • Versions of your data are stored and recorded in the metadata.

The NHMRC/ARC Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (ACRCR) also strongly promotes data preservation and sharing. Section 2 of the ACRCR relates to the management of research data.  It suggests:

  • both institutions and individual researchers have an obligation to preserve research data, in a secure environment and allow others to access it where appropriate,
  • datasets should be kept by departments, institutional repositories or national repositories, rather than only by the researcher, and
  • the value of material for other research where the research is difficult or impossible to repeat must be considered.

Sharing data builds a stronger research community by:

  • Providing researchers and students access to high quality data.
  • Allowing verification, replication and extension,
  • Supporting multidisciplinary, multi-institution research,
  • Reducing the duplication of similar research

It is important to the scientific method that social science data generated from research projects be available for replication, verification and extension. A researcher can access data from ADA, verify the results of the original investigator, conduct analyses not performed by the original investigator, or use the data, survey instruments and methods to guide their own original research.

The costs of data collection are high, and beyond the reach of most students. For those with limited access to research funding. Archived data allows the students to learn about research method and analysis in a practical way. The importance of sharing has been recognised by funding bodies in Australia and internationally (including UNESCO, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the US National Science Foundation, NHMRC and the ARC) and is now considered a vital part of the research process.

The dissemination of research data and results also has potential benefits for the general public. For example, the Australian National University (in their Policy on Open Access) has identified that:

“Open access increases the reach and benefit of research and education to society by facilitating the wide dissemination of knowledge including original research results, scholarly articles, source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphic materials, and scholarly multimedia materials.”

Publishing data through the Australian Data Archive enables the public to gain access to research data that would otherwise be inaccessible.

ADA Collection Policy

The ADA provides a national service for the collection and preservation of digital research data, primarily in the area of Social Science (Social, Political and Economic affairs), and in disseminating this data for secondary analysis by academic researchers and other users. This remit also encompasses research in the Medical, Environmental and Human Science disciplines, covering a large variety of research fields. Specific Longitudinal Studies are also curated by the ADA, ensuring that consistency of rigour is applied to these works throughout their lifecycle.

The ADA provides services to a wide variety of public, commercial and academic users in the university, government and other sectors as designated communities that are naturally reflected by the archive’s holdings.


Specialist services can be provided within specific subject areas, including Indigenous studies, electoral behaviour, criminology and some humanities disciplines. This extends to specific data types, including quantitative, qualitative, longitudinal, time series and panel data, and historical statistics. For further information on the services available it is recommended that the ADA be contacted to discuss the requirements in advance.


To support this varied community, the ADA caters for a number of common data formats for both Quantitative and Qualitative data that are typically requested by the community. The formats are split into preferred and other acceptable formats, although the ADA continue to add to this list as new formats become available.


For further details about the ADA collection Policy please see the ADA Collection Policy in the ADA public wiki:

How to Deposit Data with ADA…

There are 4 simple steps to depositing your data with ADA.


In the course of your normal research activities, ADA archivists often find that you have already prepared your data in a form that would be suitable for depositing with ADA. In preparing your data files for deposit, you may want to think about:

  • confidentiality – removing variables like peoples’ names, addresses and phone numbers. (We will let you know if we find something that we think is a risk)
  • naming conventions – have you labelled your data files and contents (such as variables) in a way that makes them readily understandable to others?
  • created and derived variables – if they are important to replication of your work, can you provide the syntax that created it? If you can’t describe how you created them, is it still important to archive them?
  • data formats – are your data in an open or commonly used format? ADA does have a set of preferred data formats for deposit, but we can handle most data formats. ADA can provide some data format conversion, but this is dependent on the availability of ADA archivists and appropriate software and hardware.

If you’re not sure about whether your data is in an appropriate format, please contact us.


At a minimum, ADA requires the following documentation to accompany a new dataset:

  • The data collection instrument (e.g. questionnaires, interview guides, data collection forms)
  • Data deposit information – provided through our Data Deposit Form (PDF)
  • A Data Deposit License (PDF form)

You may also want to include:

  • data dictionaries or codebooks
  • coding frames or guides
  • technical reports
  • any publications you want referenced in the documentation
  • other materials that may be helpful to a researcher in analysing and interpreting your data

It is preferable if you can provide these materials in electronic format where possible.


The ADA Licence Forms gives us your permission to archive the data and distribute to others. This includes determining the access conditions for your data, and questions for determining access to users. 

Please complete these forms and email them to  with an outline describing your data for deposit.  ADA will contact you about our Self Deposit process.  See 4 – THE ADA DEPOSIT AND DOCUMENTATION PROCESS.

ADA License Forms


Once ADA has approved your data for deposit, you will be provided access to ADA’s Self-Deposit service. Please refer to the ADA Public Wiki for details on this service. 

Contact  if you have any queries.

Preferred File Formats…

While ADA will accept data in most formats, we do have several preferred formats that we would ask you to consider when preparing your data for deposit.

Quantitative Data:

Preferred formats: SPSS, Stata
Other acceptable formats: SAS, R

Preferred format: CSV
Other acceptable formats: Excel

Preferred formats: CSV, Tab-delimited text, fixed format text
Other acceptable formats: Please contact ADA to discuss

Other formats, such as database formats (eg. Microsoft Access, MySQL, PostGres) should be discussed with ADA staff prior to deposit.

Qualitative Data:

Preferred formats:

  • eXtensible Markup Language (XML) marked-up text according to an appropriate Document Type Definition (DTD) or schema
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • Plain text data, ASCII (.txt)

Other acceptable formats:

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
  • Widely-used proprietary formats e.g. Microsoft Word (.doc/.docx)
  • Proprietary/software-specific formats such as NUD*IST, NVivo and ATLAS.ti

Preferred formats:

  • TIFF (uncompressed)

Other acceptable formats:

  • JPEG (.jpeg, .jpg)
  • Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF/A or PDF)
  • Raw image format (.RAW)
  • Software-specific formats (such as, for example, Photoshop .psd files) may be acceptable, but contributors should contact ADA for advice before file upload

Preferred formats:

  • Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)(.flac)
  • WAV file (.wav)

Other acceptable formats:

  • MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (.mp3)
  • Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF)(.aif)

Preferred formats:

  • JPEG 2000
  • MPEG4

Other acceptable formats:

  • Contributors should contact ADA for advice before file upload.

Preferred formats:

  • RTF (.rtf)
  • PDF/A or PDF
  • HTML (.htm)
  • Open Document Text (.odt)

Other acceptable formats:

  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Widely-used proprietary formats e.g. Microsoft Word (.doc/.docx) or Excel (.xls/ .xlsx), are acceptable but offer less long-term security
  • XML marked-up text according to an appropriate DTD or schema, e.g. XHMTL 1.0

Setting Access Conditions…

The purpose of depositing data in the Australian Data Archive is to enable the data to be made available to other researchers who may wish to analyse them.

Under ADA’s deposit protocols, the conditions under which the data may be made available by the Archive to other researchers are determined by you as the Principal Investigator depositing the data. Note that catalogue information about a study and it’s contents (known as metadata) is freely accessible to enable researchers to locate relevant data (and thus not subject to conditions).

The procedures by which a user may access data are set out in our Access Conditions. In order to access any data for online analysis or for download a user must first register with ADA. The particular form of access conditions is set by the depositor at three possible levels of access: General, Restricted or Special Access. On the ADA license form you can choose one of the following standard access conditions:

  • OPEN ACCESS: studies where there are no restrictions on access.
  • GENERAL ACCESS: studies with controlled data access managed by the ADA on behalf of the depositor. There are no additional restrictions on access to the data or publication of results, and the depositor does not wish to be informed of the use being made of the data.
  • RESTRICTED ACCESS: studies where the depositor, or an authorised representative, wishes to be informed by the Archive of each request to use the data in order to give or withhold permission.
  • SPECIAL ACCESS: studies where the depositor has included additional special access conditions. For example, the user may be required to obtain the permission of the depositor (or an authorised representative) in writing for use of the data, before publishing any interpretation of such materials.

Researchers are often interested in publishing from their data prior to releasing the data for access to others. As a depositor, you can request that an embargo period be imposed on your data, whereby no access to the data or specified variables within data would be permitted until after the date you specify. At the end of the embargo period, the data may be released under the access conditions for the study.

As a depositor, you can also set embargo or access conditions to suit their particular concerns about how the data should be used in the future. If you would like to ensure that other researchers do not pre-empt your findings, you can stipulate that the data be made available only after you have had time to publish your results.