figshare

Figshare is an online, open access digital repository which enables users to upload and share research outputs of many different types, including qualitative datasets, media, presentations, posters, software code and figures. Figshare offers unlimited storage space for publicly-shared content, as well as 20GB of private storage per user.

Provider

Figshare was founded by Dr Mark Hahnel in 2011, and has been supported by Digital Science since 2012. 

Licensing and cost

Figshare offers different services to different stakeholder types. The standard offering for individual researchers is free of charge, but more detailed and customised services aimed at publishers and institutions are charged according to scale and complexity.

Development activity

Over 30 full-time staff run Figshare day-to-day, with dedicated teams covering development, implementation, engagement and support. Figshare follows an agile development methodology with releases occurring every two weeks and major releases monthly. The development priority is largely community-led, and is determined by the system’s customers and key stakeholders. 

Platform and interoperability

Figshare is accessed via the Web. The technical infrastructure is hosted on Amazon’s S3 cloud platform, and utilises DPN for preserving and providing access to openly available content. Figshare has an open API and interoperates with a number of research collaboration, CRIS and repository platforms, including Symplectic Elements, Overleaf, ORCID, GitHUB, R OpenSci and more. (A poster on how Figshare interoperates with the wider research ecosystem is available at https://figshare.com/articles/figshare_for_institutions_interoperability_with_institutional_repositories/1501034)

Functional notes

Figshare supports the uploading of any file type or size (within usual HTTP limitations) and visualises over 650 different file types within the browser. Although the file size is limited to 5GB on free figshare.com accounts, on institutional accounts this is raised to 5TB. The platform supports the upload of any file size via the web interface but use of the API is encouraged for large files.

Figshare for Institutions allows admins to define custom metadata schemas and curation workflows to give greater control over what is released via the institution’s portal. Storage can be custom-defined by the institution to account for and abide by local data sovereignty rules. Figshare also supports a number of federated single-sign on options, including Shibboleth and LDAP. 

Documentation and user support

Figshare provides in-app tool tips to support the user journey. There is also a dedicated support site and team members regularly field questions on Twitter. The API documentation can be found at https://docs.figshare.com

Usability

The interface makes it very straightforward to upload and publish files.

Expertise required

The system is simple to use, but users must provide accurate and comprehensive metadata in order to make their research more discoverable and reusable. 

Standards compliance

Figshare has been endorsed by a number of publishers, institutions and funders around the world as a trusted repository for storing research outputs. Figshare is written primarily in Python and Javascript and is hosted by default on Amazon Web Services, but this can be configured to other storage solutions for the institutional offering. 

Influence and take-up

Figshare is now used by over 50 of the world’s leading publishers and academic institutions. It hosts over 3 million files, which have been downloaded over 8 million times with more than 7000 citations of figshare content in scholarly literature at the time of writing (October 2016). 

Last reviewed: 
3 October, 2016