FAQs

How can it be free? How will the OSF be useful to my research? What is a registration? Get your questions about the Open Science Framework answered here.

How can it be free? How are you funded?

The 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.

What if you run out of funding? What happens to my data?

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.

How will the OSF be useful to my research?

The OSF integrates with the scientist's daily workflow. The OSF helps document and archive study designs, materials, and data. The OSF facilitates sharing of materials and data within a laboratory or across laboratories. The 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.

How can I help develop the OSF?

If you are a developer, check out the open source code for the OSF on GitHub or read our API docsFor more information, send an email to contact@osf.io.

What is coming to the OSF?

For updates on new features, you can join our Google Group, find us on Twitter and on Facebook, or follow the COS GitHub page. There are public roadmaps for OSF Preprints, Registries, Collections, and Reviews here

Is the OSF experiencing downtime?

If you experience problems using the OSF or connecting to one of the third-party storage add-ons, you can check our status page for updates on how our services are operating.

How can I get started on using the OSF?

Anyone can create an OSF accounts for free at osf.io. Check out our Guides for a thorough run-down of how the OSF works. These FAQs will only cover a few of the most basic questions about the OSF, so it’s highly recommended that you read through our OSF guides.

How do I create a lab group/organizational group?

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.

What services can I use with the OSF?

The OSF supports many third-party add-ons. For storage, you can connect to Amazon S3, Box, Dataverse, Dropbox, Figshare, Owncloud, Github, and Google Drive. For citation management, you can connect to Mendeley and Zotero. The 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 helpful Add-ons section of our Guides for more information on how to use add-ons.

What can I do with a file after uploading it into a storage add-on?

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.

What is a registration?

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. 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.

What if I don't want to register anything in the OSF?

Registering is an optional feature of the OSF.

What is the cap on data per user or per project?

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 1/2017 the storage add-on options and their respective limits are:

  • Amazon S3: 5GB free for 12 months
  • Box: 10GB free, may be more for Box for Education users
  • Dropbox: 2GB free
  • figshare: 20GB free private storage, unlimited public
  • Google Drive: 15GB free, unlimited for G Suite for Education users
  • Github: open source repos are free, $7/month for private and 10MB per repository limit
  • ownCloud: free, unlimited cloud-accessible stroage on your own servers
  • Dataverse: free, 1TB storage on Harvard Dataverse; other Dataverses set alternate limits

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.

There is no limit imposed by the OSF for the amount of storage used across add-ons connected to a given project. OSF storage is offered as a complement to these options and to allow complete documentation of a research project’s lifecycle. Please see the COS Terms of Use for details.

What is the individual file size limit?

Individual files must be 5GB or less to be uploaded to OSF Storage. Larger files can be stored in an add-on.

What is the size limit for a registration?

Registrations archive and preserve both OSF Storage and add-ons connected to projects. Registrations must be 5GB or less across all storage being registered. If you need to create a registration larger than 5GB, email us at support@osf.io.

How do I get a DOI or ARK for my project?

DOIs and ARKs are available for public projects and registrations. To get a DOI or ARK, first create a project or registration. Then click the "Create DOI / ARK" link, located in the top left of the page below the project title. A DOI and ARK will be automatically created.

What if I don't want to make anything available publicly in the OSF?

The 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.

How secure is my information?

Security is extremely important for the 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," the OSF sends you a new random password because it neither stores nor has the ability to compute your password.

Is data stored on OSF Storage encrypted? What are my options?

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.

How do I report a potential security issue?

If you would like to report a security issue, please email support@osf.io for instructions on how to report the security issue. Do not include details of the issue in that email.

Is the OSF HIPAA compliant?

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.

How can I license my data/code/etc.?

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.

How does the OSF store and backup files that I upload to the site?

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 Rackspace for active storage and Amazon Glacier as a backup location. Full backups are hosted at Glacier (including parity files), and there are daily backups on Rackspace Backups for 60 days. Please refer to Rackspace and Glacier documentation for details about the other robustness features they provide.

The OSF database is backed up daily in encrypted form by Rackspace Backups for 60 days. Further, the OSF database are backed up incrementally twice a day and in full weekly; these backups are encrypted and kept indefinitely on Amazon S3. Database backups are verified monthly.

Operational data (e.g., config files) for other OSF services is backed up in primary cloud file storage for 60 days.

Logs are stored in a third party aggregation service for 90 days and are then backed up to Amazon S3 indefinitely.

What do I do if I lost my email confirmation for OSF registration, or I never received it?

Log in to the OSF with the email address and password of the account you created, and there will be a link to resend the confirmation email.

My email address has changed. How do I change my login 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 the OSF.

I have multiple OSF accounts. How do I merge them into one account?

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.

How do I deactivate my OSF account?

From your "Account Settings" page, you can request a deactivation of your OSF account. A member of the OSF team will review your request and respond to confirm deactivation.

What is the difference between a component and a folder?

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.

How do I delete a project or component?

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.

I accidentally deleted a file from my project. Can I get it back?

Unfortunately, no. When a user deletes a file from the OSF, access to the file is removed for all users.

What's a globally unique identifier (GUID)? What metadata is maintained about them?

A globally unique identifier, or GUID, is a unique string only assigned to one object on the OSF. All files, projects, registrations and users on the 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 the 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.

How do I move a file from one storage add-on to another? Or one component to another?

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.

How do I rename a project?

You can rename a project or component by clicking on its title in the top left of the project or component "Overview" page.

I'm a contributor on a private project but can't seem to access it. What happened?

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.

I can't find my project when I search for it on the OSF. What’s wrong?

The search function only returns public projects, so if you are searching for one of your own private projects, it will not be returned in the results. To search for your own projects, go to your dashboard and look through the list displayed there, or use the "My Projects" tab in the navigation bar.

I have a DOI for my OSF project. Can I host the material elsewhere without losing the DOI?

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.