In May 2022, the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) released the Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories for Federally Funded Research (DC-DR). As the title suggests, these guidelines are meant to provide funding agencies guidelines to be used when advising researchers on which repositories will meet data sharing and storage requirements. While there are many domain-specific and generalist repositories that can support researchers in sharing their data, we advocate that institutional repositories (IRs) have been, and remain, critical research infrastructure in ensuring open access to federally funded research.

Project Activities

Project Abstract

Ensuring that IRs are aligned with the DC-DR characteristics is crucial for sharing federally funded research in ways that are “consistent with the principles of making data FAIR and promoting equitable access to research products, and that integrate necessary protections of privacy and security, including human subjects’ protections” (DC-DR, p. 3). We propose a multi-phased program to bring together key stakeholders from academic institutions including IR managers, data service providers, and data curation professionals, to assess the current alignment of IRs with the Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories, identify areas for local IR development and cross-institutional alignment, and define an advocacy agenda for the role of US academic IRs in sharing and preserving federally funded research.


Institutional data repositories (IRs) serve as critical infrastructure in enabling academic libraries, and by extension their host institution, to provide the support and services needed by researchers to meet the data management and sharing requirements of funding agencies, publishers and others. Libraries have embraced the development and use of repositories as a component of the data services offered to researchers. In a recent study of data services offered by academic libraries, 114 research universities in the US, 100% had an open access IR, 82% of these IRs included research data, and 55 of the 114 institutions had a dedicated institutional repository specifically branded for research data generated at the university. In addition, most library-hosted IRs take steps to curate the data they steward in support of making data FAIR and increasing its value to scholarship. Curation activities will vary somewhat by institution but center on reviewing the content of data files, augmenting the metadata and documentation, and ensuring that needed connections between data and articles, or other outputs produced from the data are in place.

Much like domain repositories, the library based IRs are evolving at an uneven rate. Although the development of IRs has been informed by a set of common needs, academic libraries have built their repositories according to local needs and specifications. The release of the Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories (DC-DR) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Memo, “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” is an opportunity to develop a common set of policies, standards and practices to better connect all types of data repositories. Both are important documents but neither provide a clear direction for repositories to implement the high-level guidance they provide. 

Bringing IRs into alignment with the DC-DR is a sociotechnical challenge with two aspects: repositories need to be further developed and refined to best support researchers, and institutions need to review and revise their research infrastructures, policies, procedures and personnel to ensure compliance with funding requirements.

Project Plan

While we are still developing our project plan, we wanted to share our general direction for feedback from the community. In order to support this work, we would like to:

  • Provide a virtual learning series focused on preparing IRs to align with the DC-DR
  • Collaboratively develop evaluative metrics for demonstrating compliance with the DC-DR and to use these metrics as a means of advocating the IR’s role in supporting campus research
  • Documenting how IRs can develop both policies and technologies to align with the DC-DR
  • Demonstrating the impact of data curators in preparing datasets for publication.

If you are interested in learning more about our work or collaborating, please use our Contact Us form or reach out to co-PIs:

Jake Carlson, jakecarl [at]

We are also grateful for the support of the Repository Readiness Advisory team:

  • Wind Cowles, Princeton University
  • Leslie Delserone, University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • Joel Herndon, Duke University 
  • Wendy Kozlowski, Cornell University
  • Jon Petters, Virginia Tech University

This webpage will be regularly updated with our progress, including learning opportunities, publications, and calls for participation.