Information for Librarians

A toolkit for understanding and informing researchers about the NIH Figshare instance


The purpose of this toolkit is to inform librarians about the implementation of the NIH Figshare instance - ​​ - to support NIH-funded research data. This will also enable them to educate their researchers on its functionality and purpose.

This toolkit is composed of the following tools for education and engagement:

  • Information about NIH Figshare instance
  • FAQs about NIH Figshare instance
  • Case studies from researchers who have shared their data on NIH Figshare
  • Flyers explaining the benefits of function and of storing and sharing data on the NIH Figshare instance
  • A reusable presentation template for presenting the NIH Figshare instance at your organization
  • User guides detailing the process of uploading data to the NIH Figshare instance
  • How to get in touch with the NIH Figshare team for questions or further support
  • Webinars (upcoming and recordings of past webinars) on the impact of the NIH Figshare instance on NIH-funded researchers and support for institutional data librarians

About the NIH Figshare Instance

For the most up-to-date information about NIH Figshare, visit

The NIH is piloting an instance of Figshare as a way to make datasets resulting from NIH-funded research more accessible and compliant with government policies. All NIH-funded researchers can use the instance to store and share their research datasets underlying publications, as well as data not associated with publications, to enhance the rigor and reproducibility of research results.

The instance is meant to store any NIH-funded research that does not already have a designated home in a subject-specific repository. The curated NIH data repository is intended to be a supplement to those solutions and not a replacement. The repository is free to use and the data stored there are free for others to reuse.

Data submitted to the NIH Figshare instance will be reviewed to ensure there is no personally identifiable information in the data and metadata prior to being published. Review will also ensure the data and metadata are in line with the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) principles adopted by Figshare. The NIH Figshare instance provides NIH-funded researchers with:

  • The ability to self-publish any data type in any file format
  • All data assigned a branded, citable Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
  • All data associated with a license
  • Ability to link grant information to published data
  • Ability to embargo data
  • Open access to all published data
  • Data being indexed in Google and discoverable across search engines
  • Usage metrics - including views, downloads, citations, and Altmetrics - tracked openly

NIH Figshare FAQs

For a full list of FAQs, visit

  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 Scholar, Google Dataset Search, and more.

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

    No - Figshare is not designed to replace any existing NIH-related repository. For NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) with existing repositories, the NIH Figshare instance is a supplemental option for any data that may not fit in an existing repository.

  3. Are there any storage limits per user?

    The only limitation of the NIH Figshare instance is that the storage quota limit is 100GB per user. More storage can be requested. Large files or large quantities of files can be uploaded using ​Figshare’s API​ or ​ desktop uploader​.

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

    Data resulting from NIH funding can be uploaded as long as it is de-identified and contains no sensitive information. Any data type and file formats can be uploaded. Examples of the data that can be uploaded are datasets and spreadsheet data, video, audio, code, and more. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

    When you submit your data to the NIH Figshare instance, our team will first conduct a metadata quality check to be sure your information is accurate. The team may work with the submitter to make edits to ensure the highest quality and greatest discoverability before making the data public. As part of this process, we will check:

    • Uploads match the description
    • Files are provided in a format that can be shared, reused, and preserved
    • Metadata sufficiently describes the data or links to resources that further describe it
    • Embargoes are used appropriately

Case studies

Storing and sharing x-ray scattering data on the NIH Figshare instance

This case study explores the process of James Fraser and Michael Thompson, researchers in the Fraser Lab at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), uploading x-ray scattering data to the NIH Figshare instance.

Click​ ​here​ to access this case study.


These flyers are available for printing locally at your organization and reusing for promotion of the NIH Figshare instance. They can be used as two one-sided flyers or one double-sided flyer.

Click ​here​ to download print-ready versions of the below flyers. If you would like physical copies of these materials mailed to you, please email ​​.

Presentation template

A reusable presentation template highlighting the features of NIH Figshare, process of uploading data, examples of data in the repository, and more is available ​​here​.

Please feel free to make a copy and repurpose for your own organization’s needs.

User guides

There are several resources available documenting the process of uploading data to NIH Figshare.

For text documentation, including screenshots of the portal throughout the process, click here​.

For video documentation of the process of uploading to the NIH Figshare instance:

  • Click ​here​ for the video on Figshare (download, cite, and embed in your own guides)
  • Click here​ for the video on YouTube

How to get in touch with the NIH Figshare Team

If you would like a one-on-one call or meet with the NIH Figshare team to answer any questions you may have, or provide support for your institution, please email​.

If your researchers have a question about how to use the NIH Figshare instance, please send them to the Information for Researchers page.


We have two webinars available on the impact of NIH Figshare on researchers and the support available for institutional data librarians:

What does the NIH Figshare instance mean for researchers?
20 November 2019
Access recording here.

What does the NIH Figshare Instance mean for Librarians?
15 January 2020
Access recording here​.

Publishing your Datasets in the NIH Figshare Instance: An Introduction for Biomedical Researchers
30 January 2020
Register here​.

Supporting NIH-funded Researchers at your Institution to Share Data in the NIH Figshare Instance
13 February 2020
Register here​.