Data Access

Visit the PDC’s Discovery Metadata System (DMS) to browse datasets held by the PDC. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, or aren’t sure what you need, please contact us at PDCServiceDesk@bas.ac.uk.

NERC allows researchers it funds a reasonable amount of time to work‐up their data and publish their findings. This is usually a maximum of two years from the end of data collection. Therefore, to access some datasets you may have to wait until the end of this embargo period.

Some PDC data come from specific research projects that were conducted in a particular place or places for a limited time period only. Others are long-term datasets sometimes spanning 20 years or more. Send enquiries to PDCServiceDesk@bas.ac.uk and we can discuss your options.

Some of our data have been assigned a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to be used in publications to cite that particular dataset. The citation and acknowledgement for each PDC-held dataset is displayed on its download page in the following format:
[Author/s] ([year of publication]). [Title] ([Version number]). UK Polar Data Centre, Natural Environment Research Council, UK Research & Innovation. https://doi.org/[DOI]

NERC datasets are published under the Open Government Licence (OGL), v3.0. This means you are free to copy, publish, distribute and transmit the Information; adapt the Information; exploit the Information commercially and non-commercially for example, by combining it with other Information, or by including it in your own product or application. However, you MUST acknowledge the source of the Information in your product or application by including or linking to any attribution statement specified by the Information Provider(s) and, where possible, provide a link to the OGL licence. If the data are published under a licence other than OGL, then which one used will be specified in the ‘Use Constraints’ of the datasets metadata record. Get in touch if you’re not sure what the licence allows.

Data Management

A DMP is a formal document that describes how data will be handled for the duration of a research project and if deemed of long-term value, preserved for the future. It describes responsibilities for data, data security and access, metadata requirements, and detailed information on the expected datasets. Most funders require DMPs to be in place at the start of a project and to be kept up to date throughout. For some funders, a DMP is required at the grant proposal stage. NERC requires a brief outline DMP when submitting a grant proposal, which if the application is successful forms the basis of a full DMP.

On receipt of a NERC grant, a full DMP must be written within the first 6 months of the start date. This will be produced by the Principal Investigator(s) in collaboration with the relevant NERC Data Centre. If your grant falls within the remit of the PDC, you should hear from our Data Coordinator within the first 3 months of your grant starting. They will liaise with you to help you through the data management process, starting with creating the DMP. Templates and guidance can be found on the NERC website. We can provide advice and support for other funders too; please get in touch with us at the grant proposal stage.

If you are not NERC funded, there’s no need to submit your DMP to a NERC Data Centre. You can assume your NERC-funded collaborators will already be on our system and so will have already produced and submitted their own DMPs.

For NERC Strategic Research and Discovery Science grants we are funded to support you in writing a DMP and for the long-term storage and dissemination of the data. If you need additional services such as support in the acquisition of data, database development, or bespoke data visualisation or data analysis work, or if you are applying for funding from a non-NERC funder, please get in touch with us to discuss your requirements and costs as early as possible.

Our data managers regularly take part in scientific cruises supporting data acquisition and the collection of metadata, as well as supporting the acquisition and transfer of data from BAS research stations. We are able to provide in-project data management support for other NERC and non-NERC projects, but this may be at an additional cost to the project. Please get in touch with us at the grant proposal stage to discuss your requirements (see question 4 above).

Data Deposit

We can accept datasets even if they’re not funded by NERC if the data are of a polar or cryospheric nature, and the data have been collected by a UK researcher. Get in touch to discuss with the PDC.

We can archive the subsets that fall into the PDC’s remit and advise you about a suitable community-recognised repository for depositing the other subsets. We can also link the PDC subsets with the subsets deposited at the recommended repository using persistent identifiers assigned to each subset. This will allow your data to be accessible as one collection, despite subsets being archived at several repositories.

The data deposit process is covered in our workflow diagram here. To summarise; if you think the data come under our remit, get in touch to discuss the deposit; file formats, volume, transfer method etc. Then once you’ve quality checked your data they’re ready to be transferred to us along with a signed copy of our Data Transfer Agreement and completed Metadata Guidance form. A data manager will then look over your data and liaise with you to gather any further information. If all is well, a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and formal citation can then be issued, and the metadata and data (unless you’ve requested an embargo) will be published on our Discovery Metadata System.

If your data are several terabytes or greater, then the PDC may arrange for the data to be held by CEDA (the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis) as they have greater storage capacity. There will still be a record in our metadata catalogue which will link to the data in exactly the same way as if the data were held by the PDC. However please ensure that your DMP indicates that you’re expecting to produce large amounts of data so that we can plan for this.

Data should be deposited in an open, non-proprietary format in common usage by the research community wherever possible. Open formats are readable by more than one application, so make the data available to the widest possible audience as they can be accessed by various programs. They also retain the best chance of being readable in the future. Proprietary formats are those used by only one particular program or even version, and so present problems for future reuse. Those without a license to the software won’t be able to access the data. Data stored in a proprietary format should be converted to an open format before depositing in a Data Centre. For example, we ask depositors to convert proprietary Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (.xlsx) to an open format such as comma-separated values (.csv). Detailed guidance including a list of the PDC’s preferred formats can be found here. If converting your data to an open format will lead to loss of information or usability, please get in touch discuss this with the PDC.

If the file(s) are small enough, they can simply be attached to an email. Larger volumes are transferred using our FTP server. Contact the PDC for instructions.

Metadata is data about data; details describing the dataset that enable it to be discovered by others and that provide context for reuse. It also credits the data collectors when the dataset is cited. Metadata are only useful if it’s universally understandable by both people and software, and so metadata standards are used to enable consistency. Quality research metadata provide key descriptors of the data, including: format and volume, why the research was undertaken, including references to associated publications and projects; where and when they were collected, who created the dataset and who funded the work; how the data were created, instrumentation and/or software, how they were analysed, and how they were quality checked; and whether there are any access or usage constraints.

Our data managers have a range of priorities and minting DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) is just one of the many tasks constituting their role. Therefore, we request that you contact us at the earliest possible opportunity to deposit your data. However, when pressed, we generally say it takes two weeks to issue a DOI. This is because data managers undertake a number of checks on the data and metadata provided to ensure, as far as possible, that the data will be understandable and reusable for many years to come. You can speed up the process by ensuring that you’ve read and followed all the advice and guidance on our website, including checking your data against our data quality checklist, before you transfer your data.

The environmental data produced by NERC-funded activities are considered a public good and as such they must be made openly available for others to use under the Open Government Licence. However, under the NERC Data Policy, data can be held under embargo for up to two years after they have been collected to allow researchers to work‐up the data and publish their findings. Just let us know when you are depositing the data; there is a place to state this in our Metadata Guidance form.

The environmental data produced by NERC-funded activities are considered a public good and as such they must be made openly available for others to use. All NERC-funded projects are expected to submit data of long-term value to a NERC data centre, on a non-exclusive basis without prejudice to any intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights (IPR) in the data that a researcher generates depends on who a researcher works for and their contract of employment. It is normally the employer of the researcher that owns the IPR. If you work for NERC, the IPR belong to UKRI. If you work for a university, the majority of the time the IPR will belong to the university, but, this does depend on your contract of employment.

Datasets deposited in a NERC Data Centre are considered to be of long-term value, and as such have a minimum retention period of ten years after completion of the research. After this, data are periodically reviewed and potentially discarded. However, data which has been given a DOI (most data held by the PDC) will be kept in perpetuity.

Archived data, especially if they have been issued with a DOI, cannot be edited. However, we are aware that the data may change due to errors found later on. In these instances, we can either add additional files clearly labelled as errata or we can publish corrected data with a new DOI. The catalogue record of the original dataset will clearly show that an updated version of the data exist. In the instance of discovering an error you should get in touch with the PDC to discuss further.

This remains an ongoing topic of discussion in the field of data management. Newly obtained data can be added to an existing dataset to extend it, keeping the same DOI, as long as the pre-existing data remains unchanged. In some cases, an entirely new, separate dataset will be made. However, if existing data needs amending, a version 2 of the dataset needs to be published. If the existing data had a DOI, the version 2 will be issued with its own unique DOI. In any case, related datasets will be cross-referenced. The preferred option depends on the situation, and the PDC tends to decide on a case by case basis.