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'Dataverse makes it easy for me to store, archive and share my data'

Interview Sander Groffen

Sander Groffen about how and why he shares his research data.

When we publish something about our research, we feel it's important because of academic integrity to make the data available as well.' Other people should be able to view and reuse the data, according to lecturer Sander Groffen, who works in the Functional Genomics department (VU, Science/VU University Medical Center). 'The online platform DataverseNL is ideal for sharing your data.'

How do nerve cells emit signals?

'Our department studies the function of genes. We are primarily interested in those genes that have to do with neuroscience. Our goal is to learn how nerve cells emit the signals picked up by other nerve cells. Together, they create a network that allows them to pass on information.'

Live imaging using fluorescent cells

In order to study this through live imaging, Sander and his colleagues culture special nerve cells that they turn fluorescent. The researchers then record time lapse footage of the cells. 

Making data available upon publication

'This generates an enormous amount of data’, Groffen explains. 'For example, our PhD candidate Roberta Mancini collected five terabytes of data in the course of her research. When she publishes that research, we want to make the data available to all.'


'The downside of working with such large volumes of data is that things can get really expensive', Groffen says. 'The statutory retention period is 10 years, starting from the moment of publication. However, it can take a few years to get your data published in the first place, which means you must store – and back up – those data for a period of some 10 to 15 years, all told. '

Researchers decide who has access

When you store your data in Dataverse, you have the option to share those data with others. As the researcher who gathered them, you can decide for yourself who has access to which material and what kind of rights they will be granted (user, employee or curator). 

About DataverseNL

DataverseNL is a network of data repositories that relies on the Dataverse software developed by Harvard University. It is offered as a joint initiative of the participating institutions and Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS). DANS has served as the network administrator since 2014. The institutions themselves are responsible for managing the data in their respective local repositories. Dataverse is not suitable for storing sensitive or confidential information. 

In order to keep the costs of data storage and archiving services to a manageable level for VU Amsterdam and its faculties, it is important that you critically consider which data truly need to be retained before storing a dataset. It is also vital that those who submit grant applications request funding for data archiving purposes in the RDM section of their requests whenever possible.

'Dataverse makes it easy for me to store, archive and share my data'