Back in 2017, several members of the Data Curation Network participated in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Data Curation Spec Kit, a survey asking the 124 ARL institutions across the United States and Canada to self-assess their data repository and curation services. 

Three years later, institutional support for data sharing is as relevant as ever. For example, next month the Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) will convene a national summit in Washington, DC. There we will try to address how public universities may increase public access to their research, particularly in light of funder and journal requirements supporting data reuse and research transparency.  

So, we wondered, how has the academic landscape for data repository and curation services changed?

Our report, “Data Sharing Readiness in Academic Institutions” now published on the Data Curation Network website, sheds some light on this question. We pulled in the 2017 ARL Spec Kit data and updated it using website content analysis to address:

  1. How do academic ARL institutions support data sharing via data repository services? 
  2. How many datasets did they hold as of January 2020? 
  3. What repository software platform was in use? 
  4. How have things changed in the last few years?

Some of our results…

In the report and supporting dataset we share our analysis of 114 institutional data repositories. We were very impressed with the overall readiness for supporting data sharing in this subset of ARL academic libraries. For example:

  • 82% of our institutions were supporting data sharing via a digital repository
  • 24,178 datasets were counted in total! (Of course, counting datasets was not trivial and we most likely under-counted with our method)
  • We were using at least 17 different data repository platforms.
  • More institutions (n=50) were observed supporting a standalone data repository than reported in 2017 (n=11).

The vast number and variety of datasets published in academic institutional repositories is impressive and should be celebrated. We hope this work shines a light on the great work already underway and look forward to hearing the outcomes and next steps from meetings like the February national summit hosted by AAU/APLU, and beyond.

Check out the publication

Published January 15, 2020: “Data Sharing Readiness in Academic Institutions.” Data Curation Network.

Get in touch!

We would love to hear from repository owners about changes or suggestions for edits to our dataset (email us as:!

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