Getting Started For Research Groups

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First, all research team members must create their individual accounts before creating a research group. To get started as an individual on the OSF see our “ Starting Pathway on the OSF” help guides.

Lab or research groups aggregating their work on the OSF is a great way to monitor every group member's research progress, collect and share research, and start creating a data management plan for projects. 

Note: The OSF is not responsible for any tampering or mishandling of group accounts by group collaborators. 

In this article:

Possible Research Team Project Structure #1


In this example, all research for this lab group is centralized by an OSF project.  In the example below all of the OSF projects (boxes) are connected to one overarching project. 


Each project on the OSF works based on a “Parent” to “Child” relationship similar to a family tree. Any project or component (sub-project) will be either a parent or child of a linked project. Each of the parts of the graphic below is its own OSF project. 

This is what this file structure would look like on the project level, note the component section. These are the links to your components or subprojects level:  

This is what the example would look like at a sub-project level. Note the link to each sub-sub project in the component section. Each Sub-sub project can be categorized and organized based on naming and category labels.

To create this research group project structure you start by creating a single overarching project using Create a project help guide

You can then create new sub-components and sub-sub-components using our create a component help guide.

Starting Research Group From A Template

If you are interested in creating an OSF research group similar to the example described above (Example: ), you can create a copy of these templates by “forking” or creating a linked copy of one of the above templates. For instruction on our help guide: Forking a project 

Possible Research Team Project Structure #2

In this example, all research for this lab group is centralized by an OSF project, but they could potentially be less structured.  In the example below, all of the OSF projects (boxes) are connected to one overarching project. 

This is a great way of linking multiple projects under one lab project if you have existing projects from multiple lab members. To start, you will need to create an overarching project for your research group using our help guide: Create a Project

For instructions on how to link established projects to your new project, see our help guide: Link to a project

Possible Research Team Project Structure #3

You can create a similar structure as the project above by using folders inside of a single project. This looks something similar to the image below, where each sub-component would instead be a folder. 

Permission settings 

Each project and component in your research group has its own permission settings. This means that each component can be made either private or public at any time. The contributors on each component can also have different permission levels and may vary across the entire project. For more information on permissions settings please see our help guide: Understanding Contributor Permissions

If you have a contributor, that does not need to be included in the citation or contributor line you can add them as a “non-bibliographic contributor”. The non-bibliographic contributor will still be able to function as a contributor, but will not be identified in the citation line. This is useful for Laboratory techs or Laboratory managers. 

Explain permission downstream. 

Storage options and Add-on’s 

OSF projects have a 5GB storage limit for private projects and a 50GB storage limit for public projects. If your research lab is expected to exceed 50GB, consider creating a sub-component or using an add-on

Registrations, and Preprints

Registrations can be created based on OSF projects. This will create a link between your project and your newly created registration. 

Start by selecting the exact component you would like to use as a template for your OSF registration. 

Note: when creating a registration based on a project, ALL components (subproject) on the project will be registered as well. For example, If a user registers the component highlighted by the purple arrow, the user actually registers all descendent projects highlighted by the purple box. 

Additional Options for Larger Groups. 

This structure will not work for all research groups and you may require a larger solution. We offer some paid options including OSF Collections, OSF Registries, and OSF Institutions. Please reach out to

Return to getting started on OSF 

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