Blog / 16 Aug, 2019

Digital archiving and digital preservation – the foundation of your research data management strategy

Digital archiving and digital preservation are just one part of a larger research data management strategy. However, a very important one. They should form the foundation of your strategy, especially when your research data needs to be accessible long into the future.

Why do I need to keep all of this research data?

As an organisation conducting research, whether you are from a large pharmaceutical or CRO or from a small university laboratory, you need to be able to provide access and prove compliance of your data to Research Councils in Higher Education or regulatory bodies in the life sciences sector; all while making sure the data is reusable for further scientific study.

In order to do this, you need to ensure that the data is sufficiently safeguarded and managed into the long-term. In a previous blog we wrote about 5 very real benefits you can gain from safeguarding your research data management. To recap, these benefits include:

    • 100% confidence that you can meet regulatory compliance
    • No data leakage or degradation
    • Easily move to cloud or undertake migration projects
    • Secure data access
    • Increased ROI, deliver more for less

 

You can read the full blog here.

Risk management

It is important to consider the management of risk in any preservation strategy and how you will manage risks as part of your research data management strategy.

Due to the nature of research data, you need to consider mitigating risks into the long-term such as:

    • Data obsolescence
    • Hardware failure
    • Loss of staff
    • Insufficient budget
    • Accidental loss of data
    • Stakeholders change priorities
    • Underestimation of resource
    • Fire, flood, other disaster

 

Failure to consider the risks associated with these can result in inaccessibility, or worse, loss of data in your care potentially having a catastrophic effect on future research projects.

Can’t I just store my research data in the cloud/on a backup?

One of the most common misconceptions that we come across is that backup is good enough to preserve your data for the long-term and that it is the same as digital preservation. Whilst in many cases backup may be a cheaper option, you pay in the long-term when you haven’t properly preserved your valuable files.

While cloud storage or other backup options can have a number of benefits such as low cost, you ultimately pay for the low cost in other ways, as we explain in our blog “Why digital preservation isn’t just a backup”.

The bigger picture

Safeguarding of your research data is a key part of the bigger picture; digital preservation. Digital preservation brings together the activities necessary to ensure continued access to your digital materials for as long as necessary and needs the underlying data to be well organised and safeguarded in order to build your digital preservation processes on top successfully.

This involves a number of different factors including strategy, organisation and technology. As preserving research data in safeguarded storage is just a small aspect of the wider strategy, it is important to consider the safeguarding of your data as part of a wider digital preservation strategy for research data management.

You need to ensure that you have a strategy in place to manage:

    • File format changes
    • Avoiding bit rot
    • Accessibility of media in the future
    • Searchability of your data
    • Proving authenticity

 

Can your current strategy do all of this?

Conclusions

In order to protect your data and ensure it is usable, you need to actively manage the data in your care and provide context through active long-term data management and safeguarding.

Our CTO, Dr Matthew Addis, hosted a webinar on “Protecting research data through data archiving and safeguarding. View the recording.

View the recording

Emma Davenport

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