Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter are a set of criteria that are being proposed by a group of (mainly) publishers.
COAR has a number of concerns about these criteria:
  • Many repositories currently don’t comply with the criteria. There are a number of domain repositories, generalist data repositories and institutional repositories that don’t comply and do not have the resources to adopt the criteria; (anonymous review, support for versioning of data, etc). The publishers will use these criteria to direct authors as to where they can deposit their data and therefore most repositories will be disqualified.
  • The criteria are too narrowly conceived. The current draft criteria are a mix of requirements. While the are not inherently bad, although they are skewed towards the needs of publishers to link and peer review the data, they do not include other important considerations for where an author may want to deposit. For example, an author may prefer to deposit data in their own jurisdiction, even if those local repositories are not compliant with these requirements.
  • Publishers shouldn’t be determining where authors deposit their data. It should be the researchers (and their funder) that decide the best location for data deposit. This approach gives tremendous control to these publishers to set the bar for repository compliance. Over time, if we cede the control to those publishers, this could (and probably will) lead to only well-resourced repositories being available to authors that publish in those journals.
See our full statement below


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  1. Clare Allan, Senior Research Librarian, University of Stirling
  2. Rosie Al-Mulla, Assistant Archivist, University of Stirling
  3. Carme Besson Ribas, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  4. Ricardo Casate Fernández, Researcher, Instituto de Información Científica y Tecnológica, Cuba
  5. Marisa R. De Giusti, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina
  6. Mehmet Erken, Izmir Kavram Vocational School, Turkey
  7. Belén Fernández-del-Pino Torres, Library, Head of Research Support, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
  8. Dr Betsy Fuller, Research Repositories Librarian, , University of Stirling
  9. Gultekin Gurdal, Izmir Institute of Technology, Turkey
  10. Joel Herndon, Director, Center for Data and Visualization Sciences, Duke University Libraries
  11. András Holl, deputy director (IT), Library and Information Centre, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  12. Lisa Johnston, Research Data Management/Curation Lead, University of Minnesota
  13. Dr Danny Kingsley, Visiting Fellow, Australian National University
  14. Wendy Kozlowski, Data Curation Specialist, Cornell University Library
  15. Miguel Saravia Lopez de Castilla, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas
  16. Mehmet Manyas, Library Director, Kadir Has University, Istanbul, TURKEY
  17. Timothy M. McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies and Technology, Duke University
  18. Reme Melero, Researcher, Spanish National Research Council
  19. Shirley Millar, University of Stirling
  20. Amy Nurnberger, Data Management Services Program Head, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  21. Jonathan Petters, Ph.D. Assistant Director, Data Management & Curation Services, Data Services, University Libraries, Virginia Tech
  22. Robin Ruggaber, Director of Strategic Technology Partnerships & Initiatives, University of Virginia Libraries
  23. Gail Steinhart, Open Scholarship Services Librarian, Cornell University Library Information Technology
  24. Peter Suber, Director, Office for Scholarly Communication, Harvard University
  25. Brian Westra, Data Services Librarian, University of Iowa Libraries
  26. Rachel Woodbrook, Data Curation Librarian, University of Michigan
  27. Niklas Zimmer, Digital Library Services, University of Cape Town

November 24, 2020

Prepared by Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director, COAR and Dr. Danny Kingsley, Visiting Fellow, Australian National University


There has been significant concern expressed in the repository community about the requirements contained in the Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter, which sets out a number of criteria for the identification and selection of data repositories that will be used by publishers to guide authors in terms of where they should deposit their data.

COAR agrees that it is important to encourage and support the adoption of best practices in repositories. And there are a number of initiatives looking at requirements for repositories, based on different objectives such as the FAIR Principles, CoreTrustSeal, the TRUST Principles, and the CARE Principles of Indigenous Data Governance. Recently COAR brought together many of these requirements – assessed and validated them with a range of repository types and across regions – resulting in the publication of the COAR Community Framework for Best Practices in Repositories.

However, there is a risk that if repository requirements are set very high or applied strictly, then only a few well-resourced repositories will be able to fully comply. The criteria set out in Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter are not currently supported by most domain or generalist data repositories, in particular the dataset-level requirements. If implemented by publishers, this will have a very detrimental effect on the open science ecosystem by concentrating repository services within a few organizations, further exacerbating inequalities in access to services. Additionally, it will introduce bias against some researchers, for example,  researchers who prefer to share their data locally; researchers in the global south; or researchers who want to share their data in a relevant domain repository, so it can be visible to their peers and integrated with other similar datasets.

The criteria outlined in Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter are also too narrowly conceived and do not reflect the range of issues that should be taken into consideration when making decisions about where to deposit data. In addition to supporting FAIR data, researchers, policy makers, and journals should consider a range of issues when choosing or recommending an appropriate data repository:

  • Sustainability of the repository operations – Is the repository hosted or managed by an established organization?
  • Jurisdictional appropriateness – In what jurisdiction was the research undertaken and/or funded?
  • Integration and interoperability – Can the value of the data be increased if it is integrated with other available data?
  • Functionality – Is there a specific requirement for large storage or is access to processing tools required to reuse the data?

All of these elements are important in their own right, and each researcher will need to make a choice of how to balance them according to their own circumstances based on funder requirements, priorities, and needs – this should not be determined by the publisher.

Our collective goal should be to develop a sustainable, distributed, and interoperable repository network that can support researchers around the world in managing and sharing their data. To achieve this, we need to work with and strengthen existing services, not disqualify them.

If you have concerns about this issue, please send your feedback to