Ten reasons to use the ORDS

Word cloud created using Wordle.netSince our launch last August, the ORDS has been helping Oxford researchers to create, edit, search, and share databases online.

We’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved, but we know we’re only one of many tools available. So why should researchers working with data consider using the ORDS?

We think there are lots of good reasons – here are ten of them.

1. Designed with researchers in mind
The ORDS system was developed in-house by the University of Oxford’s IT Services, after extensive consultation with researchers.

2. Give old datasets a new lease of life…
If you have an existing database file, or a data collection (such as a set of spreadsheets) that you’d like to turn into a relational database, it’s easy to upload this to the ORDS – allowing you to edit, search, and (if you wish) share it online.

3. … Or create new databases from scratch
If you don’t already have a database, but are thinking about building one, you can do this using the ORDS’s in-built database schema designer. For many research projects, a relational database is the most effective way of managing your data: it allows a sophisticated representation of your data’s internal structure, provides a powerful way of querying the data, and helps maintain consistency and avoid mistakes.

4. Access from anywhere
The ORDS is web-based, so you can work with your data from any computer with an Internet connection.

5. Peace of mind
Databases on the ORDS system are automatically backed up, so there’s no need to be concerned about data loss.

6. Easy collaboration
If you’re working as part of a team, you can add your colleagues as members of your ORDS project – even if they aren’t based at the University of Oxford. Project members can be assigned differerent roles, depending on what they need to be able to do with the data.

7. Engage with your public
Funding bodies are increasingly keen for research data to be made available for use by other academics, and for researchers to participate in public engagement activities. The ORDS makes it easy to share subsets of your data publicly on the web. (But if you’d rather keep your data private, you can do that, too – you remain in control.)

8. No-hassle archiving
Many funding bodies also now require that data is preserved after the end of a project – and where appropriate, published. The best way to do this is by depositing a copy with a suitable archive. To make this process as quick and easy as possible, a one-click archiving mechanism for ORDS databases is currently in development.

9. We’re here to help
The ORDS is designed to be straightforward to use, but if you’re new to the world of databases and would like some advice on database structure, writing queries, or any other aspect of working with your data, the ORDS team are always happy to help.

10. It’s free!
The ORDS is available free of charge to all University of Oxford researchers (including postgraduate research students) and their collaborators.

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