Data Collection Development Policy

This policy governs the collection development and acquisition of data at UVA Library. Researchers submitting an application to the UVA Library’s Data Purchase Program should follow these guidelines. All acquisitions initiated by the Library itself will also follow these guidelines.


  • There should be broad curricular and research interest in the data to be acquired. In order to maximize impact, we strive to build a data collection useful to the largest number of people, and preference will be given to data requests that meet that requirement.
  • Access should not be restricted by school or department if purchased by UVA Library.
  • “Single user” datasets will not be purchased (e.g., iTunes model). That is, if only a single user (or project team) can use the dataset based on restrictive license terms or technical requirements, we cannot purchase the data.


  • Joint purchases between the Library, researchers, and/or departments, are encouraged.
  • Typically the library can allocate $5,000 for a research data acquisition of value to a range of research interests, and $1,000 for research data of value to a single researcher. These amounts are flexible, and we encourage researchers to consider the value of the data to the widest number of UVA affiliates.
  • At the same time, we strive to be flexible; an expensive dataset or database that has high value – broad impact across research and instruction at UVA – will be considered. Supplemental funding on the part of the researcher or schools are especially welcome in these cases.


  • Numeric, spatial, and textual data will all be considered.
  • To be included in our collections, data can be purchased, licensed, or open.
    • Purchased data are data that the Library owns outright (although there may be terms of use in a contract).
    • Licensed data are data that the Library essentially rents for a period of time, which may be predetermined or on-going.
    • Open data are data that are openly available to the public.
  • Data should be relevant to research and curricular needs of UVA.
  • Any time period, geography, or language will be considered.


  • Data are current, and do not require frequent or costly updates.
  • Data are from a credible and reliable source.
  • The vendor is a reliable business partner.

Format and Access:

  • Supported access methods:
    • Mounted on Library server with IP-access (e.g., Dave Leip Election Data)
    • Mounted on Library server with dedicated terminal access (e.g., Geolytics Census CDs)
    • Online licensed databases with IP-access (e.g., Social Explorer)
    • Online data repositories with institutional memberships (e.g., ICPSR)
    • Online licensed databases with dedicated terminal access (e.g., Datastream)
    • Physical format (e.g., CD-ROM)
    • Freely available online resources
  • Preference is given to data that can be stored online and remotely accessed.
  • Preference is given to software-independent (“standard”) formats. If not software independent, the interface must offer ease of use.


  • Data must be accompanied by adequate documentation and metadata.

Decision Making Authority:

  • Acquisition decisions will include the Data Librarian, the relevant Liaison Librarian(s), and Collections Management within the Library.