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Addressing digital preservation challenges through Research Data Spring

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With the short time scales at play in the Jisc Research Data Spring initiative it is very easy to find yourself so focussed on your own project that you don’t have time to look around and see what everyone else is doing. As phase 2 of Research Data Spring comes to an end we are taking time to reflect, to think about digital preservation for research data management, to look at the other projects and think about how all the different pieces of the puzzle fit together. Our “Filling the Digital Preservation Gap” project is very specifically about digital preservation and we are focusing primarily on what happens once the researchers have handed over their data to us for long term safekeeping. However, ‘digital preservation’ is not a thing that exists in isolation. It is very much a part of the wider ecosystem for managing data. Different projects within Research Data Spring are working on specific elements of this infrastructure and this blog post will try and unpick who is doing what an

Research Data Spring - a case study for collaboration

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Digital preservation is not a problem that any single institution can realistically find a solution to on their own. Collaboration with others is a great way of working towards sustainable solutions in a more effective way. This post is a case study about how we have benefited from collaboration whilst working on the "Filling the Digital Preservation Gap" project. In late 2014 Jisc announced a new collaborative initiative called Research Data Spring . The project model specifically aimed to create innovative partnerships and collaborations between stakeholders at different HE institutions working within the field of Research Data Management. Project teams were asked to work in short sprints of between three and six months and were funded for a maximum of three phases of work. One of the projects lucky enough to be funded as part of this initiative was the “Filling the Digital Preservation Gap” project, a collaboration between the Universities of Hull and York. This was a valu

File identification ...let's talk about the workflows

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When receiving any new batch of files to add to the digital archive there are lots of things I want to know about them but "What file formats have we got here?" is often my first question. Knowing what you've got is of great importance to digital archivists because... It enables you to find the right software to open the file and view the contents (all being well) It can trigger a dialog with your donor or depositor about alternative formats you might wish to receive the data in (...all not being well) It allows you to consider the risks that relate to that format and if appropriate define a migration pathway for preservation and/or access We've come a long way in the last few years and we now have lots of tools to choose from to identify files. This could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. Each tool has strengths and weaknesses and it is not easy to decide which one to use (or indeed which combination of tools would give the best results) ...and once we've s

Sharing the load: Jisc RDM Shared Services events

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This is a guest post from Chris Awre,  Head of Information Services, Library and Learning Innovation   at the University of Hull. Chris has been working with me on the "Filling the Digital Preservation Gap" project. On 18th/19th November, Jenny and I attended two events held by Jisc at Aston University looking at shared services for research data management.  This initiative has come about as many, if not all, institutions have struggled to identify a concrete way forward for managing research data, and there is widespread acknowledgement that some form of shared service provision will be of benefit.  To this end, the first day was about refining requirements for this provision, and saw over 70 representatives from across Higher Education feed in their ideas and views.  The day took an initial requirements list  and refined, extended and clarified these extensively.  Jisc has provided a write-up of the day  of its own that describes the process undertaken usefully. Jenny and

The third UK Archivematica user group meeting

This is a guest post from Simon Wilson, University Archivist at the University of Hull based within the Hull History Centre. Simon has been working with me on the "Filling the Digital Preservation Gap" project and agreed to provide a short write up of the UK Archivematica group meeting in my absence. With Jen presenting at iPRES in North Carolina Julie Allinson and I attended the UK Archivematica user group meeting at the Laidlaw Library in Leeds. After the round table introductions from the 11 institutions that were represented, Julie began proceedings with an presentation on our Jisc "Filling the Digital Preservation Gap" project. She updated the group on the progress within this project since the last user group meeting 5 months previously and focused in particular on the development work and enhancements to Archivematica that are being undertaken in Phase 2. A presentation from Fergus O'Connor and Claudia Roeck at the Tate highlighted their use of Archivemat

iPRES workshop report: Using Open-Source Tools to Fulfill Digital Preservation Requirements

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As promised by the conference hosts it was definitely Autumn in Chapel Hill! Last week I was lucky enough to be at the iPRES conference . iPRES is the international conference on digital preservation and is exactly the sort of conference I should be at (though somehow I have managed to miss the last 4 years). The conference was generally a fantastic opportunity to meet other people doing digital preservation and share experiences. Regardless of international borders, we are all facing very similar problems and grappling with the same issues. Breakfast as provided at Friday's workshop iPRES 2015 was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this year. Jetlag aside (I gave up in the end and decided to maintain a more European concept of time) it was a really valuable experience. The large quantities of cakes, pastries and bagels also helped - hats off to the conference hosts for this! One of the most useful sessions for me was Friday's workshop on ‘Using Open-Source Tools to Fulfill Digital

Spreading the word on the "other side of the pond"

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A guest post by Richard Green who has been leading the University of Hull's technical investigations for "Filling the Preservation Gap". Jenny is away from her desk at the moment so I've been deputised to provide a blog post around the work we've been doing at the University of Hull as part of the Jisc-funded "Filling the Preservation Gap" (FPG) project.  In particular we (the FPG team) want to mention a poster that we prepared for a recent conference in the US. Hull has had a digital repository in place for a considerable number of years.  It has always had the Fedora (now Fedora Commons) repository software at its heart and for several years now has deployed Hydra over the top of that - indeed, Hull was a founder member of the Hydra Project .  With the established repository goes an established three-stage workflow for adding content.  Content is initially created in a “proto-queue” by a user who, when (s)he is happy with it, transfers it to the owner

Spreading the word at the Northern Collaboration Conference

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Collaborating with other delegates at the start of the day Photo credit: Northern Collaboration Conference, Kiran Mehta I gave a presentation last week at the 2015  Northern Collaboration Conference . My first trip to this conference which is primarily aimed at those working in academic libraries and proved to be an interesting day. The theme of the day was 'Being digital: opportunities for collaboration in academic libraries' so I thought our collaborative Jisc Research Data Spring project was a perfect fit. It was great to have a new audience to talk to about our plans to 'fill the digital preservation gap' for research data. Though it is academic libraries that are taking on this challenge, my typical audience tends to be those working in archives. Slides are available on slideshare . (epic fail on getting the embed code to work in Blogger) My slides are available on Slideshare  for those who want to see what I was talking about. I began by making sure that we were s

Enhancing Archivematica for Research Data Management

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Where has the time gone? ....we are now one month into phase two of "Filling the Digital Preservation Gap" ....and I have spent much of this first month on holiday! Not quite a 'digital preservation gap' - just an excuse to show you my holiday snaps! So with no time to waste, here is an update on what we are doing: In phase two of our project we have two main areas of work. Locally at York and Hull we are going to be planning in more detail the proof of concept implementations of Archivematica for research data we hope to get up and running in phase three. Meanwhile over in Canada, our collaborators at Artefactual Systems are starting work on a number of sponsored developments to help move Archivematica into a better position for us to incorporate it into our implementations for managing and preserving research data. We have a project kick off call with Artefactual Systems scheduled for next week and we will be discussing our requirements and specifications for devel

Archivematica for research data? The FAQs

Thinking of preserving research data? Wondering what Archivematica does? Interested in what it might cost? What follows is a series of FAQs put together by the "Filling the digital preservation gap" project team and included as part A of our phase 1 project report . We hope you find this useful in helping to work out whether Archivematica is something you could use for RDM. There are bound to be questions we haven't answered so let us know if you want to know more... ************************************************ Why do we need a digital preservation system for research data? Research data should be seen as a valuable institutional asset and treated accordingly. Research data is often unique and irreplaceable. It may need to be kept to validate or verify conclusions recorded in publications. Funder, publisher and often internal university requirements ask that research data is available for others to consult and is preserved in a usable form after the project that gener

Improving RDM workflows with Archivematica

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In a previous post we promised diagrams to help answer the 'How?' of the 'Filling the Digital Preservation Gap' project. In answer to this, here is a guest post by Julie Allinson, Manager of Digital York, who looks after all things Library and Archives IT. Having just completed phase one of a Jisc Research Data Spring project with the University of Hull, we have been thinking a lot about the potential phases two and three which we are hoping will follow. But even if we aren’t funded to continue the project, the work so far won’t be wasted here at York (and certainly the wider community will benefit from our project report !) as it has given us some space to look out our current RDM workflow and look for ways that might be improved on, particularly to include a level of curation and preservation. My perspective on all of this is to look at how things can fit together and I am a believer in using the right system for the right job. Out of lack of resource, or misunderstan