A Safe, Cozy Home for Data: The KiltHub Institutional Repository

Maybe it's because I've been listening to a lot of YouTube ambiance videos (check out this one creating a soundscape of being in a cabin during a blizzard) and drinking copious amounts of tea, but I've had the word 'cozy' on my mind for a few weeks now. What comes to your mind when you think of the word 'cozy'? Soft blankets? A cabin with a fireplace? A basket of tiny, fuzzy bunnies? Being the data enthusiast that I am, a really interesting thing comes to mind when I think of the word 'cozy': data repositories. Yes, data repositories. If you're confused, that's entirely normal! Grab a snack, some tea, and a blanket (or whatever makes you feel cozy!) and keep reading.

Not familiar with data repositories? Think of them like banks for data. They are (usually) digital platforms that can take in data, store it for the long term, and in many cases, make it available for others to reuse in their own research. CMU has its own repository called KiltHub (yes, we love the name too), which is our official institutional repository for data, papers, and a variety of other research products. KiltHub makes a lovely home for theses, dissertations, journal articles, presentations, and other research products - but that's a topic for another blog. Because this is Tartan Datascapes, I want to focus on data!  KiltHub is based on the figshare platform, which is an online generalist open access repository. What is a generalist repository? It is a type of repository where you can find research from any discipline on the platform, and it is not limited to a specific audience!

At CMU Libraries, KiltHub is led by the efforts of Katie Behrman (Institutional Repository Manager) and Ann Marie Mesco (Data Deposit Coordinator), who are supported by myself and David Scherer (Scholarly Communications and Research Curation Consultant). When data is submitted to KiltHub, we go to great lengths to make sure that your data has a safe, cozy home in our repository. This includes checking for sustainable, open file formats (.csv instead of .xlsx!), making sure you have a README file that supports the proper reuse of and context for your data, and good filenames (underscores, not spaces!). We care about your data, and we are passionate about making sure it has a good home in KiltHub.

Another thing that I find incredibly cozy is Pinterest. I love to scroll through the site, pinning recipes and DIYs that I will surely never actually make but it feels good to pin them and save them for later. Part of the allure of Pinterest for me is the visual design of the website, where I can scroll for however long I'd like and find new ideas and inspiration. Browsing KiltHub can be very similar, as it has a design interface akin to Pinterest that encourages scrolling and serendipitously finding engaging content. It's a great way to stumble upon all the fascinating research going on at our university, and even find potential collaborators who are working on projects you are interested in.

Screenshot of the KiltHub interface, with a Pinterest-like design with square images for each item

Don't like Pinterest? That's okay! KiltHub also has a really great faceted search system so you can look for research in specific departments and labs on campus. There's something for everyone!

As I wrap up this blog post, one thing I wanted to highlight is that the KiltHub repository is a fluid work-in-progress. Just like Pokémon, it evolves over time. At CMU Libraries, we are development partners with figshare, and we can take in user feedback to support optimizing what users need for the platform. This is YOUR repository as a member of the CMU community!

Do you have data that might find some coziness in KiltHub? Get in touch with our team and we'd love to have a conversation with you! Or, you can check out our guidelines and user documentation for KiltHub data deposits and get started today!