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GuidesResearch methodsWhat is a research repository, and why do you need one?

What is a research repository, and why do you need one?

Last updated

31 January 2024


Chloe Garnham

Researchers face many challenges. The research process itself can be time-consuming and complex, and the storage, organization, and seamless sharing of that research can be even trickier.

Without one organized source of truth, research can be left in silos, making it incomplete, redundant, and useless when it comes to gaining actionable insights.

A research repository can act as one cohesive place where teams can collate research in meaningful ways. This helps streamline the research process and ensures the insights gathered make a real difference.

What is a research repository?

A research repository acts as a centralized database where information is gathered, stored, analyzed, and archived in one organized space.

In this single source of truth, raw data, documents, reports, observations, and insights can be viewed, managed, and analyzed. This allows teams to organize raw data into themes, gather actionable insights, and share those insights with key stakeholders.

Ultimately, the research repository can make the research you gain much more valuable to the wider organization.

Why do you need a research repository?

Information gathered through the research process can be disparate, challenging to organize, and difficult to obtain actionable insights from.

Some of the most common challenges researchers face include the following:

  • Information being collected in silos

  • No single source of truth

  • Research being conducted multiple times unnecessarily

  • No seamless way to share research with the wider team

  • Reports get lost and go unread

Without a way to store information effectively, it can become disparate and inconclusive, lacking utility. This can lead to research being completed by different teams without new insights being gathered.

A research repository can streamline the information gathered to address those key issues, improve processes, and boost efficiency. Among other things, an effective research repository can:

  • Optimize processes: it can ensure the process of storing, searching, and sharing information is streamlined and optimized across teams.

  • Minimize redundant research: when all information is stored in one accessible place for all relevant team members, the chances of research being repeated are significantly reduced. 

  • Boost insights: having one source of truth boosts the chances of being able to properly analyze all the research that has been conducted and draw actionable insights from it.

  • Provide comprehensive data: there’s less risk of gaps in the data when it can be easily viewed and understood. The overall research is also likely to be more comprehensive.

  • Increase collaboration: given that information can be more easily shared and understood, there’s a higher likelihood of better collaboration and positive actions across the business.

What to include in a research repository

Including the right things in your research repository from the start can help ensure that it provides maximum benefit for your team.

Here are some of the things that should be included in a research repository:

An overall structure

There are many ways to organize the data you collect. To organize it in a way that’s valuable for your organization, you’ll need an overall structure that aligns with your goals.

You might wish to organize projects by research type, project, department, or when the research was completed. This will help you better understand the research you’re looking at and find it quickly.


Including information about the research—such as authors, titles, keywords, a description, and dates—can make searching through raw data much faster and make the organization process more efficient.

All key data and information

It’s essential to include all of the key data you’ve gathered in the repository, including supplementary materials. This prevents information gaps, and stakeholders can easily stay informed. You’ll need to include the following information, if relevant:

  • Research and journey maps

  • Tools and templates (such as discussion guides, email invitations, consent forms, and participant tracking)

  • Raw data and artifacts (such as videos, CSV files, and transcripts)

  • Research findings and insights in various formats (including reports, desks, maps, images, and tables)

Version control

It’s important to use a system that has version control. This ensures the changes (including updates and edits) made by various team members can be viewed and reversed if needed.

What makes a good research repository?

The following key elements make up a good research repository that’s useful for your team:

  • Access: all key stakeholders should be able to access the repository to ensure there’s an effective flow of information.

  • Actionable insights: a well-organized research repository should help you get from raw data to actionable insights faster.

  • Effective searchability: searching through large amounts of research can be very time-consuming. To save time, maximize search and discoverability by clearly labeling and indexing information.

  • Accuracy: the research in the repository must be accurately completed and organized so that it can be acted on with confidence.

  • Security: when dealing with data, it’s also important to consider security regulations. For example, any personally identifiable information (PII) must be protected. Depending on the information you gather, you may need password protection, encryption, and access control so that only those who need to read the information can access it.

How to create a research repository

Getting started with a research repository doesn’t have to be convoluted or complicated. Taking time at the beginning to set up the repository in an organized way can help keep processes simple further down the line.

The following six steps should simplify the process:

1. Define your goals

Before diving in, consider your organization’s goals. All research should align with these business goals, and they can help inform the repository.

As an example, your goal may be to deeply understand your customers and provide a better customer experience. Setting out this goal will help you decide what information should be collated into your research repository and how it should be organized for maximum benefit.

2. Choose a platform

When choosing a platform, consider the following:

  • Will it offer a single source of truth?

  • Is it simple to use

  • Is it relevant to your project?

  • Does it align with your business’s goals?

3. Choose an organizational method

To ensure you’ll be able to easily search for the documents, studies, and data you need, choose an organizational method that will speed up this process.

Choosing whether to organize your data by project, date, research type, or customer segment will make a big difference later on.

4. Upload all materials

Once you have chosen the platform and organization method, it’s time to upload all the research materials you have gathered. This also means including supplementary materials and any other information that will provide a clear picture of your customers.

Keep in mind that the repository is a single source of truth. All materials that relate to the project at hand should be included.

5. Tag or label materials

Adding metadata to your materials will help ensure you can easily search for the information you need. While this process can take time (and can be tempting to skip), it will pay off in the long run.

The right labeling will help all team members access the materials they need. It will also prevent redundant research, which wastes valuable time and money.

6. Share insights

For research to be impactful, you’ll need to gather actionable insights. It’s simpler to spot trends, see themes, and recognize patterns when using a repository. These insights can be shared with key stakeholders for data-driven decision-making and positive action within the organization.

Different types of research repositories

There are many different types of research repositories used across organizations. Here are some of them:

  • Data repositories: these are used to store large datasets to help organizations deeply understand their customers and other information.

  • Project repositories: data and information related to a specific project may be stored in a project-specific repository. This can help users understand what is and isn’t related to a project.

  • Government repositories: research funded by governments or public resources may be stored in government repositories. This data is often publicly available to promote transparent information sharing.

  • Thesis repositories: academic repositories can store information relevant to theses. This allows the information to be made available to the general public.

  • Institutional repositories: some organizations and institutions, such as universities, hospitals, and other companies, have repositories to store all relevant information related to the organization.

Build your research repository in Dovetail

With Dovetail, building an insights hub is simple. It functions as a single source of truth where research can be gathered, stored, and analyzed in a streamlined way.

1. Get started with Dovetail

Dovetail is a scalable platform that helps your team easily share the insights you gather for positive actions across the business.

Sign up for an account to get started with a Dovetail repository and access a free trial.

2. Assign a project lead

It’s helpful to have a clear project lead to create the repository. This makes it clear who is responsible and avoids duplication.

3. Create a project

To keep track of data, simply create a project. This is where you’ll upload all the necessary information.

You can create projects based on customer segments, specific products, research methods, or when the research was conducted. The project breakdown will relate back to your overall goals and mission.

4. Upload data and information

Now, you’ll need to upload all of the necessary materials. These might include data from customer interviews, sales calls, product feedback, usability testing, and more. You can also upload supplementary information.

5. Create a taxonomy

Create a taxonomy to organize the data effectively by ensuring that each piece of information will be tagged and organized.

When creating a taxonomy, consider your goals and how they relate to your customers. Ensure those tags are relevant and helpful.

6. Tag key themes

Once the taxonomy is created, tag each piece of information to ensure you can easily filter data, group themes, and spot trends and patterns.

With Dovetail, automatic clustering helps quickly sort through large amounts of information to uncover themes and highlight patterns. Sentiment analysis can also help you track positive and negative themes over time.

7. Share insights

With Dovetail, it’s simple to organize data by themes to uncover patterns and share impactful insights. You can share these insights with the wider team and key stakeholders, who can use them to make customer-informed decisions across the organization.

8. Use Dovetail as a source of truth

Use your Dovetail repository as a source of truth for new and historic data to keep data and information in one streamlined and efficient place. This will help you better understand your customers and, ultimately, deliver a better experience for them.

Should you be using a customer insights hub?

Do you want to discover previous research faster?

Do you share your research findings with others?

Do you analyze research data?

Start for free today, add your research, and get to key insights faster

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