How can it be free? How will OSF be useful to my research? What is a registration? Get your questions about OSF answered here.
OSF is maintained and developed by the Center for Open Science (COS), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. COS is supported through grants from a variety of supporters, including federal agencies, private foundations, and commercial entities. Read more about our finances.
COS established a $250,000 preservation fund for hosted data in the event that COS had to curtail or close its offices. If activated, the preservation fund will preserve and maintain read access to hosted data. This fund is sufficient for 50+ years of read access hosting at present costs. COS will incorporate growth of the preservation fund as part of its funding model as data storage scales. For information about OSF backups and technical preservation details, see the OSF Backup and Preservation Policy.
OSF integrates with the scientist's daily workflow. OSF helps document and archive study designs, materials, and data. OSF facilitates sharing of materials and data within a laboratory or across laboratories. OSF also facilitates transparency of laboratory research and provides a network design that details and credits individual contributions for all aspects of the research process. To see how it works, read our Guides.
User support and feedback
Send us an email and we'll be happy to help you.
Security and privacy
You’re always welcome to deactivate or delete your account. You should be aware that information that you've shared with others or that others have copied may also remain visible after you have closed your account or deleted the information from your own profile. In addition, you may not be able to access, correct, or eliminate any information about you that other users have copied or exported out of the Websites, because this information may not be in our organization's control. Your public profile may be displayed in search engine results.
Security is extremely important for OSF. When you sign up and create a password, your password is not recorded. Instead, we store a bcrypt hash of your password. This is a computation on your password that cannot be reversed but is the same every time it is computed from your password. This provides extra security. No one but you can know your password. When you click "Forgot your password," OSF sends you a new random password because it neither stores nor has the ability to compute your password.
Transfer of data to OSF Storage is encrypted with SSL (external storage add-ons may have their own policies). Data at rest is not encrypted on OSF Storage. If you would like your data to be encrypted at rest, you can encrypt it before uploading to OSF Storage. You can also use the Amazon S3 add-on and implement server-side encryption on S3.
For OSF Storage, files are stored in multiple locations and on multiple media types. We keep three types of hashes (MD5, SHA-1, SHA-256) for files. We keep parity archive files to recover from up to 5% bit error. We use Google Cloud for active storage and Amazon Glacier as a backup location. File backups are hosted at Glacier, and there are daily backups on Google Cloud for 60 days. Please refer to Google Cloud and Glacier documentation for details about the other robustness features they provide.
The OSF database is backed up via streaming replication 24 hours a day, and incremental restore points are made twice daily. Further, the OSF database is maintained in encrypted snapshots for an additional 60 days. Database backups are verified monthly.
Operational data (e.g., config files) for other OSF services are backed up in primary cloud file storage for 60 days.
Logs are primarily stored in Google Cloud cold storage indefinitely. In certain cases a third party aggregation service is used for up to 90 days, then backed up to Amazon S3 indefinitely.
Unfortunately, no. When a user deletes a file or project from OSF, access to this content is removed for all users.
OSF is designed to support both private and public workflows. You can keep projects, or individual components of projects, private so that only your project collaborators have access to them.
OSF is not HIPAA compliant. If you use a HIPAA-compliant storage provider that is available as an OSF add-on, we recommend using that service connected to your OSF project to meet your HIPAA requirements. Please refer to your institutional policies regarding specific security requirements for your research.
OSF supports many third-party add-ons. For storage, you can connect to Amazon S3, Bitbucket, Box, Dataverse, Dropbox, Figshare, Github, GitLab, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Owncloud. For citation management, you can connect to Mendeley and Zotero. OSF also has its own default storage add-on, OSF Storage, if you choose not to connect to any third-party add-ons. Please refer to the Add-ons section of our Guides for more information on how to use add-ons.
There is currently no applied limit on storage per project, and there is no applied overall cap on the amount of OSF Storage per user. Each project is created with a default OSF Storage enabled. Each project can additionally have any number of add-ons connected to their project to extend its usability and allow access to existing data/materials.
The limit of add-on storage options varies by provider. We recommend users utilize the storage option that is ideal for their data (e.g., with respect to accessibility or security) and connect that service to their OSF project(s) rather than transfer the data to OSF storage. As of 1/2018 the storage add-on options and their respective limits are:
- Amazon S3: 5GB free for 12 months
- Bitbucket: 1GB free per month for LFS
- Box: 10GB free, may be more for Box for Education users
- Dataverse: free, 1TB storage on Harvard Dataverse; other Dataverses set alternate limits
- Dropbox: 2GB free
- figshare: 20GB free private storage, unlimited public
- Github: open source repos are free, $7/month for private and 10MB per repository limit
- GitLab: 10GB free per repository
- Google Drive: 15 GB free, unlimited for G Suite for Education users
- OneDrive: 5 GB free
- ownCloud: free, unlimited cloud-accessible storage on your own servers
More add-ons will be available soon. Many academic research institutions may offer enterprise licenses for the tools above that provide increased storage limits. Institutions may also offer access to locally available storage options for users that have OSF Institutions.
Individual files must be 5GB or less to be uploaded to OSF Storage. Larger files can be stored in an add-on.
Log in to OSF with the email address and password of the account you created, and there will be a link to resend the confirmation email.
From your "Account Settings" page, you can add additional email addresses to your account, and select which of these is your primary email address. Any of these emails can be used to log in to OSF.
Log in to the account you wish to keep and navigate to your "Account Settings" page. There, enter the email address associated with your other OSF account. You will receive a confirmation link via email. Clicking the link will merge the projects and components into one account.
A folder can be used to organize files within a project or component - just like a folder on your own computer groups files together. A component is like a sub-project to help you organize different parts of your research. Components have their own privacy and sharing settings as well as their own unique, persistent identifiers for citation, and their own wiki and add-ons. You can also register a component on its own, without registering the parent project.
To apply a license to your OSF project, visit the project's "Overview" page and select one from the "License picker" in the top left of the page below the project's description. You can select from a variety of commonly used licenses or upload your own.
DOIs are available for public projects and registrations. To get a DOI, first create a project or registration. Then click the "Create DOI" link, located in the top left of the page below the project title. A DOI will be automatically created.
To delete a project or component, navigate to the project or component and click on Settings in the gray navigation bar. There you will see a red Delete button. If the project or component has nested components, you must delete the nested components before you can delete the parent project or component.
A globally unique identifier, or GUID, is a unique string only assigned to one object on OSF. All files, projects, registrations and users on OSF receive a GUID. Privacy settings of the project, component, or registration dictate who can see the metadata about files, projects, components, or registrations. If a file is deleted, the GUID will always resolve to a page that provides metadata about the removed file (file name, storage provider, if the deletion occurred on OSF or on an add-on service, name/GUID of user who deleted the file, and timestamp of file deletion). For projects, components, registrations and users the GUID will resolve and inform that the content has been removed. Non-deleted or withdrawn files, links, and metadata are persistent as described above.
A registration is a frozen version of your project that can never be edited or deleted, but you can issue a withdrawal of it later, leaving behind basic metadata. The project can continue to be edited and updated, providing you the option to register your project at different points throughout the research cycle.
When you create the registration, you have the option of either making it public immediately or making it private for up to four years through an embargo. A registration is useful for certifying what you did in a project in advance of data analysis, or for confirming the exact state of the project at important points of the lifecycle, such as manuscript submission or the onset of data collection. Read more about registrations here.
Registering is an optional feature of OSF.
You can rename a project or component by clicking on its title in the top left of the project or component "Overview" page.
You can move files between components and add-ons (provided the components and add-ons are a part of the same project) by simply dragging and dropping from within the "Files" section on the project "Overview" page or in the "Files" tab via the project navigation bar. The Dataverse add-on does not currently support this feature.
You may have been removed from the project by one of the administrators. You can get in touch with one of the administrators to ask if you were deleted and whether they can re-add you to the project.
Yes, send us an email with your DOI and the new location of your materials and we will update the URL associated with your DOI.
You can view, download, delete, and rename any files uploaded into OSF Storage. Plain text files can be edited in your browser. All files are assigned unique, persistent identifiers, suitable for use in citations.
Files in third party storage add-ons might have restrictions on renaming or deleting.
The best way to create a lab or organizational group on the OSF is to create a project for that group. Then, individual projects within the lab can either be organized into components of the lab project or into their own projects which are linked to the lab group project. For an example, check out the Reproducibility Project: Psychology.