Reaching out beyond academia: curating, managing and preserving digital research data

Article dated: 19 March 2012

In summer 2011 the UK Data Archive received a small grant from the University of Essex Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund.

This fund is part of the University's strategy to foster knowledge transfer between the University and the nonacademic community by inspiring innovation, stimulating regional prosperity and enabling enterprise.

Over five months, the project explored opportunities for transferring the Archive's long-standing expertise in curating, managing and preserving digital research data to audiences beyond higher education. The focus was on two main areas of work: consultancy and training for organisations in managing and curating digital research data; and data preservation services for non-academic organisations.

The funding enabled some active market research and business planning which included:

  • identifying and contacting relevant organisations
  • hosting open events to engage with new audiences
  • evaluating training needs, mode of training, and cost model(s) for training
  • evaluating demand and cost models for consultancy services for data curation
  • evaluating a demand and cost model for preservation services

Results from the project show that there is a growing demand for bespoke consultancy services coupled with training for organisations which undertake social research, along with data management practices and capabilities.

The take-up of curation and preservation services by organisations outside higher education is likely to be unattractive owing to the perceived high costs associated with the Archive's services, which are geared around ensuring long-term access to high quality data for re-use. The Archive will of course always consider ingesting data which directly benefits its core user community at cost.