Preparing Data for Digital Archiving and Preservation

What Do I Do With My Data in the Meantime?

Preparing Data for Digital Archiving and Preservation

If there were a central coordinating institution in place for anthropology, the best strategy for anthropologists wanting to digitally archive data would be to follow the instructions from that central institution, both in terms of first finding a trusted repository, and then second following the general guidelines as well as the more specific guidelines from the particular repository. The trusted repository would presumably be following the best guidelines for storage infrastructure and have plans for long-term preservation (as well as have guidelines or entry forms for digitization as well as the needed metadata.

Keep in mind that a trusted repository or preservation archive is an established institution committed to long-term preservation of the digital object; a distinguishing characteristic is that such an archive will have a technology migration plan on which to found its claims of long term digital accessibility. Thus it contrasts with a ‘web archive,’ which is often only a website serving information from a database or file directory. Web archives rarely serve genuinely interoperable material, and they regularly disappear in response to changes in institutional servers or in the responsibilities of the archive creator.

In the absence of a central coordinating institution, which is the current case, the next best solution is to find a trusted repository (perhaps even one’s university library—and, if possible, provide copies of data to other institutions. As already discussed, if at all possible, it is wisest to avoid going it alone.

If you have not decided on a repository, you should follow the guidelines discussed in this working report (Maintenance of Data Integrity and Best Practices for Storage Infrastructure). The absolutely worst solution is to store data in proprietary formats without publicly available file format specifications that may not be readable in the future. If the media are not upgraded, the data may also be lost.

Leave a Reply