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PLOS Criteria for Recommended Data Repositories

Post by the PLOS ONE Editors on behalf of the PLOS Data Team

Since 2015, the PLOS journals have maintained a list of repositories that we have determined to be suitable for authors depositing datasets that accompany PLOS articles. Selection of an appropriate repository allows researchers to maximize the visibility of their data while ensuring the data and related meta-data meet field-specific standards within their research community. We therefore encourage authors to deposit data to recommended field-specific, multi-disciplinary or institutional repositories when possible and put data in Supporting Information files only when a suitable repository is not available.

Part of the PLOS list of recommended repositories

In support of Open Data Day 2018, we outline below a set of criteria that explain how we assess repositories for inclusion in this list. (For more from PLOS on the theme of Open Data Day 2018 see here.) These criteria follow FAIR principles on data openness, which we encourage repository owners to adhere to when setting up and managing their repositories. These criteria will also be posted to the PLOS websites in the near future.



1) Repository dataset submissions should be open to all researchers whose research fits the scientific scope of the repository. PLOS’ list does not include repositories that place geographical or affiliation restrictions on submission of datasets.

  • We do allow use of institutional or national repositories by authors, but do not currently include them on the list in order to focus on the repositories that serve the most people.

2) Repositories must assign a stable persistent identifier (PID) for each dataset at publication, such as a digital object identifier (DOI) or an accession number.

  • Unique persistent identifiers ensure that the dataset will be permanently stored at a given location. PLOS seeks to avoid situations where updated or broken links render data inaccessible. Similarly, the identifier must reference the specific dataset, and not simply a wider collection of data. Using a unique identifier facilitates a record of re-use and ensures researchers who generated the data receive credit for their work.

3) Repositories must provide the option for data to be available under CC-0 or CC-BY licenses (or equivalents that are no less restrictive). Specifically, there must be no restrictions on derivative works or commercial use.

  • All PLOS articles are published under these licenses, and PLOS requires that accompanying datasets should be available in an equally free manner unless legal or ethical restrictions prevent open data sharing. These licenses allow interested readers to use, re-use, and re-analyze data – an important step in promoting reproducibility.

4) Repositories should make datasets available to any interested readers at no cost, and with no registration requirements that unnecessarily restrict access to data. PLOS will not recommend repositories that charge readers access or subscription fees.

  • In line with PLOS’ mission of making the results of scientific research openly and immediately available at the time of publication,  accompanying datasets should be publicly available when at all possible, without restrictions related to cost.

5) Repositories must have a long-term data management plan (including funding) to ensure that datasets are maintained for the foreseeable future.

  • Maintenance of repositories needs to be planned for, to ensure that all datasets remain online and available indefinitely. It would be counterproductive if data became unavailable due to a lapse in funding or if repository infrastructure was not maintained adequately.

6) Repositories should demonstrate acceptance and usage within the relevant research community, for example, via use of the repository for data deposition for multiple published articles.

  • This criterion is intended to help ensure that data have the broadest reach possible.

7) Repositories should have an entry in, to allow linking to the PLOS entry.

  • Using a service like allows information on repositories to be standardized and collated in one easily-accessible location. This allows submitting authors to compare repositories when choosing where to deposit their data. In the future, PLOS may also consider solely referring authors to, rather than hosting a version of the repository list on our own website.

Please note that while we do maintain this list of ‘PLOS-recommended’ repositories, authors are nevertheless free to use other repositories that support open data sharing. Additionally, if authors’ data are subject to restrictions related to certain ethical or legal concerns, we accept data being available upon request, if compliant with PLOS’ Data Policy (see our FAQs). PLOS’ list of recommended repositories is intended to help authors find the best location for their data, and the criteria above outline the factors we consider when evaluating new or unlisted repositories.

If you have any questions or if you’re a repository owner, please feel free to contact our Data Policy Team via



When establishing our list of recommended repositories, PLOS built on a list created previously by the Open Access Nature Publishing Group journal, Scientific Data.[1]


  1. Scientific Data recommended repositories [Internet]. figshare; 2017. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.1434640.v10


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