NIH Figshare Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is Figshare?
  2. What are the benefits of using the NIH Figshare instance?
  3. Why an NIH instance of Figshare?
  4. Is the NIH Figshare instance a permanent NIH solution?
  5. Who can use the NIH Figshare instance?
  6. How do I login to the NIH Figshare instance?
  7. NIH already has numerous data repositories. Does the NIH Figshare instance replace them?
  8. What type of data can I upload to the NIH Figshare instance?
  9. Are there any storage limits per user?
  10. Can I upload large datasets?
  11. Will my data become openly available as soon as I upload?
  12. Is my data secure?
  13. How is my data stored?
  14. Is there a cost to use the NIH Figshare instance?
  15. When I submit my data, what checks are done before publishing?
  16. How is the data on NIH.Figshare.com backed up?
  17. Will the datasets always be open?
  18. I'm a librarian; where do I find more information?
  19. How can data be reused?
  20. Can I bulk download data files or harvest metadata from NIH Figshare?

1. What is Figshare?

Figshare is an online repository for making research data citable, shareable, and discoverable. Data published on Figshare is assigned a persistent, citable DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and is discoverable in Google, Google Dataset Search, and more.

2. What are the benefits of using the NIH Figshare instance?

The NIH Figshare instance provides researchers with all the existing Figshare features, as well as additional benefits specific to the NIH Figshare instance:

  • Public open access to NIH-funded data on Figshare
  • Support for larger datasets and data files of any type
  • Detailed, NIH-specific metadata to improve discoverability of your research and direct links to NIH funding sources and publications
  • User support from a Figshare team member with expertise in data curation and biomedical research, including complimentary review of data files and description to ensure highest quality and greatest discoverability

3. Why an NIH instance of Figshare?

As part of the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science, the NIH is committed to making data more accessible by providing solutions to store, find, and access datasets resulting from NIH supported research. Researchers may sometimes find themselves with a requirement to share data, but with no domain-specific repository to use.

NIH is engaging with Figshare on a pilot program to test the usefulness of generalist data repositories to the NIH data ecosystem. As an established repository, Figshare provides an easy way to corral and correlate all data associated with a grant/project in one location and makes it easy to give credit for uploaded data.

4. Is the NIH Figshare instance a permanent NIH solution?

The NIH Figshare instance is the first step toward evaluating a solution for individual datasets with no clear domain-specific repository. Regardless of the permanent solution, any and all data uploaded to Figshare, along with all metadata descriptions, will be available via Figshare.

5. Who can use the NIH Figshare instance?

Any NIH-funded researcher, including intramural NIH researchers and extramural NIH-funded researchers and their lab groups, can use the NIH Figshare instance to share data from NIH-funded projects.

6. How do I login to the NIH Figshare instance?

To create an account on nih.figshare.com, click on the 'sign up' link in the top right-hand corner of the page. Once you've completed the sign-up form, an email will be sent to you to confirm your account.

If you've already created an account, click on the 'log in' link in the top right-hand corner of the page to enter your email address and password. Once logged in, you will immediately be able to upload your data.

7. NIH already has numerous data repositories. Does the NIH Figshare instance replace them?

No - NIH Figshare is not designed to replace any existing NIH-related repository. Domain-specific, open-access data-sharing repositories, whether funded by NIH or other sources, are good first choices for researchers, and NIH encourages their use. For NIH Institutes and Centers with existing repositories, the NIH Figshare instance is a supplemental option for any data that may not fit in an existing repository.

8. What type of data can I upload to the NIH Figshare instance?

Any data resulting from NIH funding that is de-identified and contains no sensitive information can be uploaded. Any data type and file formats can be uploaded. Examples of the data that can be uploaded are:

  • Datasets and spreadsheet data
  • Multimedia files including images, video, or audio
  • Code
  • Research materials such as stimulus sets or survey instruments

Most file types can also be previewed in the browser, meaning others can see a visualization of the data on the item page without necessarily having to download the file(s).

The NIH Figshare instance is not intended for posters, slides, preprints, or papers. To make these research products openly available, we recommend using another generalist repository or your institutional repository.

9. Are there any storage limits per user?

The initial storage quota is 500GB per user. To request more storage, click on the “Request more storage” button at the top of your “My data” page. Large files or large quantities of files can be uploaded using ​Figshare’s API​ or desktop uploader​.

10. Can I upload large datasets?

Yes, you can use Figshare's desktop uploader (https://figshare.com/tools) or API (https://docs.figshare.com) to upload large files or many files. If you have files on Amazon Web Services S3 that you would like to upload to NIH Figshare directly, you can modify this Python script (https://docs.figshare.com/#upload_files_upload_s3_file_to_figshare).

11. Will my data become openly available as soon as I upload?

Data and metadata on Figshare can be embargoed or made confidential if you prefer to keep your data private temporarily. For more information on how to set these conditions on your data and metadata, see here. Data submitted to be published in the NIH Figshare instance will also go through a review process by a team of Figshare experts before it is made public. We aim for this review to be completed within 1-3 business days of submission, and a Figshare team member will contact you by email with any questions. You may reserve the item’s DOI in advance of it being published if you would like to include it in a paper or manuscript; that DOI will go live when the item is made public.

12. Is my data secure?

All uploads that are privately stored can only be accessed by the submitter when they are logged in. The NIH Figshare instance is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 to ensure the highest level of security for your research data. AWS utilizes an end-to-end approach to secure and harden its infrastructure, including physical, operational, and software measures and provides authentication mechanisms to ensure that data is kept secure from unauthorized access.

The security and persistence of your files on Figshare make it easy to prevent plagiarism of your research data as all uploads are time-stamped.

13. How is my data stored?

The NIH Figshare instance is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 to ensure the highest level of stability for your research data. AWS stores multiple, redundant copies of your information so you don't have to worry about ever losing your master copy.

Every part of the Figshare data store is backed up - we don't just rely on the redundancy of Amazon's cloud. We do daily backups of the metadata, and weekly snapshots of the entire data system, including an encrypted one of the S3 file store.

The Figshare server clusters are monitored in real time and the service is able to scale readily to meet traffic spikes that may occur when you release new or exciting datasets. We also use MD5 checksums when storing a file, which are checked against the file regularly to ensure the file is intact.

14. Is there a cost to use the NIH Figshare instance?

There is no cost to publish NIH-funded data on the NIH Figshare instance.

15. When I submit my data, what checks are done before publishing?

When you submit data to the NIH Figshare instance, our deposit review team of Figshare employees with expertise in data curation and biomedical research will conduct a file and metadata review before the item is made public. This review includes a file and metadata quality check to ensure the description is accurate and the item can be shared. This check will also ensure the data and metadata are in line with the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) principles adopted by Figshare to encourage data reusability. The deposit review team may contact the submitter by email and work with them to make edits to ensure the highest quality and greatest discoverability of the published data. As part of this process, we will check:

  • Files match the description, can be opened, and are documented.
  • A descriptive title is included.
  • Item type is appropriate for the NIH Figshare instance.
  • Submitter has affirmed that no personally identifiable information (PII) is contained within the files or metadata and no obvious PII is observed during review.
  • Metadata sufficiently describes the data or links to resources that further describe it.
  • Embargoes are used appropriately.
  • An appropriate license has been applied.
  • NIH funding is specified and linked.
  • Related publications are linked.

16. How is the data on NIH Figshare backed up?

All datasets hosted on NIH.Figshare.com not only live on Amazon Web Services S3 storage but are also deposited into Chronopolis for further preservation. Chronopolis is a digital preservation service based out of the University of California at San Diego that provides services for long-term preservation of digital content.

NIH.Figshare.com uses the DuraSpace DuraCloud Vault deposit node to add content into Chronopolis to preserve the public corpus of multi-disciplinary data. As a result, NIH.Figshare.com users can be guaranteed long-term access to their publicly available scholarly content.

For more information on Chronopolis and DuraCloud, please visit https://libraries.ucsd.edu/chronopolis/index.html and https://duraspace.org/duracloud/about/.

More information around our open archival information system (OAIS) model is available by request.

17. Will the datasets always be open?

All data published on the NIH Figshare instance with no embargo will always be available to the general public via both a download button on the repository and the API.

18. I'm a librarian; where do I find more information?

We have a Librarian toolkit available here.

For direct support, email nihsupport@figshare.com

19. How can data be reused?

Researchers select a data or code license to apply to their research when uploading and making items publicly available. The NIH Figshare instance allows for Creative Commons or software reuse licenses. More details of what different licenses mean can be found here.

20. Can I bulk download data files or harvest metadata from NIH Figshare?

Yes, our openly documented API is available for bulk data download and metadata harvesting (as well as file upload and more). Find our API documentation here as well as on GitHub here. The API can be used to query NIH Figshare with institution ID “633.” Our API Guide provides an introduction to the API and examples of how it has been used. You can find more workflow tools and integrations with Figshare on our Apps page. You can also export metadata via OAI-PMH as documented in the API or export bibliographic information in several citation formats (including RefWorks, BibTeX, Endnote, DataCite, NLM, DC and RefMan) on the right side panel of each item page.