Take any higher education institution as an example and what you’ll see is a large business with a vast number of subsidiaries. Those subsidiaries are research entities, teaching departments, library and library services, student records, University and student finance, accommodation services and so on – the list is endless. When it comes to the long-term storage of data, it is extremely difficult to provide an umbrella archiving solution that fits all. The solution? Divide and conquer.

Research and specifically RDM has specific requirements for data retention and integrity that have to comply with the funding councils stipulations relating to data management. The May 2015 deadline for EPSRC is only one of several stipulations relating to data management that institutions face from funding bodies. But, there are other considerations for you and your institution. Below is our quick, top three guide to those:

  • Data Availability – The drive for any research-based institution is to make data available to the wider pool of interest. Data availability could mean for a collaborating University, Universities with similar research interests or industry looking for common connections in research. It has been suggested that if an institution can make research data readily accessible, preserve it for the long term and increase citations relating to that research then the value of that data increases to the University and can stimulate further research investment. The ultimate goal is for open access data. Therefore it’s important to find a solution that is format independent, is robust and easily implemented and carries a guarantee for the integrity of your data no matter how long it is stored.
  • Should we look to the Cloud? Or buy our own servers?
    • Those are also options for archiving data, absolutely. But, we would advise you look at the small print. A hosted service needs to offer a guarantee for the integrity of your data – and ensure that every ‘bit’ of your data comes back to you, when you need it. Also, it is worth checking the small print for penalties when you pull data back as those can mount up. Are there on-going and background processes taking place to ensure your data is kept safe for the life time of your contract? Only a fully managed service takes care of this for you – media refreshes, hardware obsolescence, file format management and checksums are vital to ensure your data is never compromised.
    • And, of course, you could buy your own servers to archive your data, but you’d have to think of all those things and more. Plus, you’ll need to consider the cost of maintaining your server room over the long term – costs can soon mount up.
  • And, what about our repository? – There are currently over 200 repository platforms available to institutions, but there is no overall public repository. Choosing an archiving solution that has integrations with some of the more widely used repository platforms will further ensure your repository for the future.

There are many more considerations to make before making a commitment to a long-term archiving solution. If you’d like to understand more about archiving for higher education, research data management or to find out details of the Janet data archiving framework agreement, please do get in touch with us.

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