Collection development and submission guidelines

The Movebank Data Repository (hereafter repository) is a public digital archive hosted by the Communication, Information, Media Centre (KIM) of the University of Konstanz that publishes data packages based on data stored on the Movebank platform (, hereafter Movebank), a global, online research platform for managing, sharing, analyzing and archiving animal tracking and animal-borne sensor data hosted by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. Data owners manage and retain ownership of their data within user-controlled studies in Movebank. This repository allows data owners to archive their data as data packages that include a citation, persistent identifier (DOI), and Creative Commons Zero license. Read more about Movebank and the Repository and answers to common questions.

The repository is included in the re3data and FAIRsharing repository registries, and is recommended by a number of journals and publishers to meet data archiving policies, including the British Ecological Society, the Journal of Zoology, Oikos and Springer Nature. Published data are discoverable on Movebank and through the Web of Science Data Citation Index, Google’s Dataset Search, DataCite Search, and other search and discovery engines.

Collection development

The repository publishes animal tracking and animal-borne sensor datasets that are submitted through import to Movebank's database and described in one or more written publications. By importing data to the Movebank platform, all published data are harmonized using a shared, publicly documented data model and vocabulary. This enables efficient review and quality assessment, and supports our mission to archive data that are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable.

Published datasets consist of packages of files that include, at a minimum, (1) a data file containing animal locations or other sensor measurements, (2) a data file containing deployment-level information about animals, sensors and deployments, and (3) a readme file and package-level metadata prepared by curation staff.

Examples of data within the scope of the Repository include

  • animal tracking and other animal-borne sensor measurements (location data are not required) collected using supported methods and sensors;
  • animal tracks of individuals derived from animal-borne sensor measurements, such as geolocation or state-space modeling, or from human observations;
  • data describing wild and captive animals, and experimental studies; and
  • data with reduced resolution or precision, or excluding sensitive locations, to publish data for sensitive species without posing a security or conservation risk.

Examples of data outside the scope of the repository include (1) survey counts, radar data, camera trap images, acoustic recordings, (2) data with location coordinates or timestamps that have been transformed so that they no longer represent the true time and geographic locations of animal occurrences, and (3) simulated tracks that do not represent actual animal movements. Note that for datasets within the scope described above, additional files in open formats that further describe the data and analyses can be included with the data package.

Expansion of the scope of the collection follow additions to Movebank's data model and vocabulary. As new sensor types and attributes are added to the Movebank platform, these can also be included in published datasets.

Submission and review

We ask data authors, reviewers, and editors to review the information below to understand how and when to submit data and the steps and timeline for data review and publication.

How and when to submit

In order to allow sufficient time for data review and preparation, we recommend submitting a submission request at least two weeks prior to the desired release date. To include a reference to your data in an unpublished manuscript, we can reserve a DOI and provide a citation to add to your manuscript or proofs. To request an expedited review, or address journal inquiries, please contact

Preparing your submission

To prepare data for submission, create a study in Movebank and import and organize data as described in the user manual. See Movebank's best practices for archiving data on Movebank, in particular the general best practice tips for completing quality control and providing sufficient reference data.

If you are not familiar with Movebank or prefer that curation staff organize the data on Movebank for you, you can prepare data files and documentation to include with your submission. Additional files to publish along with the Movebank-format data should be prepared in open formats and aligned with Movebank's vocabulary, in particular using consistent tag and animal identifiers, as relevant and feasible.

Once the data are prepared, to begin a new submission, the corresponding author of the dataset will fill out a Depositor Agreement.

To complete the agreement, depositors will also be asked to

  • provide an author list for the data package;
  • provide a copy of one or more manuscripts (to be kept confidential) or publicly available papers or reports describing the data; and
  • add the Movebank account MDR_reviewer as a Data Manager to the relevant study/ies in Movebank, if applicable.

Relationships between published data and studies on Movebank: In most cases, a data package that is equivalent to a study in Movebank is published in relation to a paper or report. It is also possible to

  • publish multiple studies as multiple data packages in relation to the same paper;
  • publish a subset of a Movebank study, for example a select set of individuals or time period; and
  • publish additional data from the same project that were not used in a published analysis.

Coordinating with manuscript reviews

If the submitted data are described in a manuscript that is not yet published, we can reserve a DOI and provide recommended citations and data availability statements to include in the manuscript text. After curation staff have confirmed that access to sufficient information is available to ensure the data review and release, as described below, the DOI can be reserved and shared with the data author and with relevant editorial offices upon request. It is also possible to provide reviewers with secure access to data through Movebank before they have been published. A DOI or other persistent link to the related paper must be provided before the data are released. This ensures that any changes to the data that result from the manuscript review process are reflected in the final published data package, protects the right of data authors to publish first analyses of their data before making it public, and allows the publication of metadata linking published data to related papers.

Dataset review

All submitted data are reviewed by a repository curator within Movebank before final files are prepared for publication. The goal of the review is to ensure that the data and reference data were correctly imported to Movebank and match the general description in documents provided by the depositor, including written description, figures, tables and appendices. The curator will prepare a set of questions and proposed changes or additions, and send this to the depositor for feedback. Based on this feedback, either the curator or depositor will make agreed-upon changes to the data within the Movebank study. Data checks and suggestions will generally follow Movebank's best practice tips for preparing data for archiving and quality control procedures.

The review may involve one or more rounds of feedback and updates. Once all questions are addressed, the curator will prepare the final data files and the readme file for upload to the repository and publication. Data files consist of text/csv files accessed from the study in Movebank. The readme file is a text document providing general information needed to understand and cite the published data.

Releasing the data

The data package can be finalized and released after the review is complete, and once a link and citation for the related paper are provided. In the case of accepted manuscripts, the DOI for the paper can be used to finalize the link and citation. The data will then be released when the paper is available online, or can be released earlier if the depositor prefers.

Embargos: We can offer a 1-year embargo prior to releasing data. Depositors are responsible for ensuring that the embargo are in accordance with relevant data-sharing or data availability policies.

Data updates and versioning

Depositors may want to update published data packages to include corrections or additions. Because the repository provides DOIs that persistently link to published data files, data authors should submit a new dataset that includes the changes. Package-level metadata can be updated following publication, for example to document relationships to additional published datasets or papers. An upgrade to the repository software planned for 2021-2022 will include improvements to better accomodate versioning.


For further information, please contact our curatoration team at