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Main points

A datalab can be used to store, edit and share research data with designated parties and persons during the research. A datalab temporarily stores files of which it is unclear if (and which part of them) will be entered into a long-term archive. It is a place for ‘dynamic’ data. 
When the data is moved from a datalab to a data archive, e.g. 4TU.Centre for Research Data or DANS and they have been made publicly available, the data is considered to have been published.  

Datalabs can be part of Virtual Research Environments (VRE’s) or collaboratories. They are web-based environments to support scientific collaboration.

A datalab offers the possibility to: 

  • store data;
  • manage versions;
  • describe data;
  • share data (with access control).

The accordion below shows examples of datalabs. 

Dataverse network

Dataverse network

Dataverse Network (DVN) is a scientific platform developed by Harvard University that has been used by the Utrecht and Tilburg Universities since 2010 and has since spread across practically all Dutch universities and the 'Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie - NIOO' (Netherlands Institute for Ecological Research). The tool is also being developed for the Dutch market under the name Dutch Dataverse Network.(1) In 2014, management of this project will be transferred from Utrecht to DANS.

Dataverse Network is a collaborative environment making it possible to grant permission to specific persons and groups to inspect (access or reading rights) and edit (writing or edit rights) data. Dutch Dataverse Network is (not) yet suitable for long-term archiving of datasets.

Leon Osinski wrote a piece about the functionalities of datalabs (Dutch) based on the Dataverse network.  

The dataverse of Social and Organization Psychology(2) in Utrecht will shortly contain research data for this data management plan.(3)

Open Earth

Open Earth

OpenEarth(4) is the Deltares(5) datalab, an open source initiative to store and share data, models and tools in the field of marine and coastal engineering.

It is a successful datalab that arose from within the research community itself and is copied and used throughout the world.

The Zandmotor datalab is the first datalab that resulted from this collaboration. During their research, the researchers all work together in the datalab. When the research has ended, the data will be made available to the 4TU.Centre for Research Data archive.



The examples below vary in the degree of collaboration (on data). The last one (IPlant), for instance, is a collaborative environment focussed on a specific research community.   

   Case Leiden University

"A data lab is, in short, an environment in which users can manage dynamic research data. From within this environment users can transfer data sets to DANS." - Peter Verhaar

To an increasing extent, libraries and researchers collaborate in structuring the process of data management and archiving at as an early a stage as possible. In 2012, the Leiden University Library started two data management projects.   Initiates file downloadThe 'Datalabs' project (Dutch) investigates how Virtual Research Environments (VREs) can be utilized for temporary storage of research data and how they can then be transferred to a sustainable archive. For this sustainable storage of data the Leiden University Library collaborates with the national DANS and 4TU.Centre for Research Data data centres. A wonderful example of the front office / back office model.

In the screencast below (without audio) you will find a brief example (built in Sharepoint) of the Leiden datalab for the Italian Dialect Archive of the Leiden University. The corresponding document (Dutch) contains the subtitles for the screencast. In this document you can see and read how to upload data files, how to describe them (provide metadata for them), what version management is and how data files can be transferred to DANS after a period of time.


Click to open/close

  1. Dutch Dataverse Network. Retrieved from
  2. Dataverse Social and Organization Psychology. Retrieved from
  3. SURF. (2013). Checklist (concept) data management plan of the Social and Organizational Psychology (SOP) department, Utrecht University. Retrieved from
  4. OpenEarth. Retrieved from
  5. Deltares. Retrieved from
  6. 3TU.Datacentrum. (2013). OpenEarth data-lab for Sand engine by 3TU.Datacentrum. Retrieved from[tt_news]=154&cHash=997ad0a2f7f07c1bc155af09688bc669
  7. Apetrei, F. (2013, December 12). Research data management and collaboration - New features from figshare. [blog]. Retrieved from
  8. Beehub. Retrieved from
  9. Winn, J. (2013). Open data and the academy: an evaluation of CKAN for research data management. [eprint]. Retrieved from
  10. Hubzero. Retrieved from
  11. iPlantCollaborative. Retrieved from

   Your additions

Do the researchers of your institute also use datalabs? If so, which one? Do you have other suggestions or additions for this page? Please let us know and post a comment.  

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Annemiek Kuil - Nog een datalab: SHARE:
SHARE a tool that is otherwise cumbersome to install or configure. Users connect remotely to virtual machines that are hosted on powerful servers.

3 years 8 months ago · 
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Ana Van Meegen - Voor mij zijn Figshare en Dataverse Network geen datalabs maar een repository, een gestructureerde opslag voor onderzoeksdata. Een virtual research environment (VRE) zoals de Sharepoint omgeving van Univ.Leiden is voor mij wel een datalab. Datalabs worden binnen de VU eLabs genoemd: een virtuele omgeving waar applicaties en data verzameld worden die nodig zijn voor het genereren en bewerken van data.

3 years 8 months ago · 
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Erik Jansen - Dataverse Network zou je kunnen inzetten als repository, maar daar is het in mijn perceptie zeker niet alléén voor ontwikkeld. Gebaseerd op het artikel van deze paragraaf voldoet Dataverse Network aan alle eisen die gesteld worden aan een Datalab. Een VRE (Sharepoint) zal meer flexibiliteit en functionaliteit bieden in een dynamische omgeving. Het is prima mogelijk om beide tools complementair in te zetten.

3 years 7 months ago · 
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Annemiek Ouwerkerk - Bij de Universitaire Bibliotheken Leiden wordt sinds 2014 het opzetten van en assisteren bij een Virtual Research Environment (VRE) als vaste dienst aangeboden in een samenwerking tussen de digitale diensten en de afdeling vakreferenten, die in hun faculty liaison-werk VRE’s aanbieden en coördineren. Er zijn er nu, eind 2015, ruim 30 actief. Onderzoekers gebruiken de VRE’s vooral als datalab en samenwerkingsinstrument. In Leiden wordt gewerkt met SharePoint; in een samenwerkingsverband met de TU Delft en de Erasmus Universiteit wordt geëxperimenteerd met Google Sites en met de combinatie van SharePoint voor de veilige opslag van data en Google Sites voor de makkelijke en snelle samenwerking.
Zie voor de Leidse portal over VRE’s:

2 years 2 months ago · 
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Frans de Liagre Böhl - Er is op de UU een aantal 'datalabs' op basis van iRods geimplementeerd. Wij zijn nu bezig met de ontwikkeling van een iets omvangrijker datalab wederom op basis van iRods met uitgebreidere mogelijkheden tot metadaten en versiebeheer. Dit zal bovendien voorzien in een eigen archief met catalogus.

1 year 2 months ago · 
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