Collaborations using Movebank

One goal of Movebank is to enable small and large collaborations to advance research, wildlife management, and conservation efforts. Read about some of the collaborations that Movebank helps to support on our Partners page. While each collaboration is unique, the following steps provide general tips for how Movebank can be used to plan and carry out a successful collaborative project.

Public and private data: Hundreds of data owners have made their data open on Movebank for the public to download and use. Please read the data policy and general Movebank terms of use for expectations on the use of public data for new research and applications. In general, we recommend contacting owners of both public and controlled-access studies about your project, as described below.

  1. Define a clear research question and outline the data needs for addressing it. Researchers will be more excited to participate in a well-planned project to which their data and expertise will be a valuable contribution. Consider what taxonomic, geographic, temporal, methodological or other data characteristics define studies that are relevant to your project. For example, usable data might require a minimum location accuracy, sampling rate or sample size, or be limited based on other data attributes, such as an analysis of only adult movements.

  2. Identify potential collaborators. Other researchers or organizations might help with analysis, provide existing data or collaborate on new data collection. In addition to those you already have in mind, you can browse Movebank to find other data owners who might want to participate or use the REST API to obtain a summary of visible studies.

  3. Write a data-sharing agreement that you and each participant can sign. A formal agreement can clarify how your collaboration will work and prevent miscommunication. Here is a sample data-sharing agreement you are welcome to use. The agreement could specify

  • who owns and is contributing data,
  • who will use the data,
  • a summary of the proposed analysis or other use,
  • the scope of data relevant to the analysis and any required data attributes,
  • how to ensure data quality and completeness,
  • how the data owner will be credited for their contribution, and
  • whether and when you will relinquish access to the data.

Some data owners might have organizational data-sharing agreements they prefer or require. Providing a draft will show you are invested in your project, and will include details that could be helpful to add to other forms of agreements.

  1. Contact the collaborators you want to invite, and present a brief proposal of your project and planned analysis. Make sure to include details they will need to decide whether to participate:
  • What are the data requirements?
  • What is the timeline of the project?
  • What funding do you have to complete the project?
  • What will you need from participants?
  • How do you plan to credit them in the products resulting from the project?
  1. Collectively decide how the data will be shared. This could work in a number of ways:
  • The data owner adds you as a Collaborator or Data Manager to the study. (Collaborators may view or download data; Data Managers can also add and edit data.)
  • The data owner downloads files from Movebank and sends them to you.
  • The data owner provides you with files to upload to Movebank on their behalf.
  1. Decide how you will prepare and check data prior to analysis. Datasets may not be ready for analysis in their current state, and it can be difficult to identify errors or important missing information in others' data. You will need to work with the data owners to make sure that the data are complete, check for outliers and ensure that deployment periods are set properly (i.e. that pre-/post-deployment records are not associated with animals). There are a variety of tools in Movebank to help you with these tasks.

  2. Fulfill your end of the data-sharing agreement. After investing time in discussing the project and providing you with data, researchers will want to hear about the progress of your project and confirm that they receive the agreed-upon co-authorship or acknowledgement.

Good luck! If you have questions or need assistance with using Movebank for your collaboration, contact us at Remember that while Movebank is excited to facilitate collaborations, the proper use of shared data is the sole responsibility of the data owners and users.

When the scope of sharing is limited to a specific project, consider creating a Movebank user for that project. This username can be shared among all collaborators involved in an analysis so that data owners don't have to grant access to multiple users. When the project is complete, access can be easily revoked by the data owner or by requesting that the user be deleted (contact