Keeping research data safe

Article dated: 23 September 2009

The UK Data Archive is playing a significant role in the JISC-funded Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS) 2 project. This project will extend previous work on digital preservation costs for research data, including the original KRDS1 study.

The report from KRDS1 made a major contribution to the understanding of digital preservation costs by developing a cost model and identifying the major expenditure variables for preserving research data in the UK. The report focused on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) but its conclusions are of value to other organisations which preserve research data.

The KRDS2 project, which started in April 2009 and will end in December 2009, will identify and analyse sources of related cost data. The outcomes of the study will be critical in developing preservation-costing tools and associated cost-benefit analyses.

These will be used to help justify and sustain major investments in repositories and data curation, not only for HEIs and their institutional repositories but also for other digital archives which collect, preserve and disseminate digital resources.

The project is being led Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Limited, with Matthew Woollard from the UK Data Archive and Brian Lavoie from OCLC Research providing managerial and research support. To date, the project has undertaken a detailed review of the activity model published in KRDS and made a number of amendments to the model. These revisions include: dividing the outreach and depositor support into separate sub-activities; making a clearer distinction between the creation and implementation of selection policies and procedures; and including staff development as a specific activity. The new activity model will be central to the final report. These revisions can be found on the KRDS2 web pages and the project team welcome comments on these changes.

The UK Data Archive has also carried out a detailed review of activity costs to be integrated into the project, which will help to demonstrate the general usability of the model and its applicability (with some caveats) across a wide range of organisations. Writing up of this section of the report is currently underway. These cost data, along with data from other organisations, will also provide guidelines for other organisations which wish to produce their own cost profiles based on their own, often different, institutional mandates.

The project is currently working with other partners, including the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York and The University of London Computer Centre, and their cost data to explore the general applicability of the model to a range of organisations which deal with the preservation of research data.