SCIDIP-ES inter-active platform

Ideas about improvements to your repository

SCIDIP-ES has been designed to help repositories improve the way in which they preserve their digital holdings. There are many services and tools but you can choose any or all or none of them. This page suggests some questions you may wish to consider, and the ways in which some of the tools and services may be able to help.

Can enough people understand the data in your repository?

The fundamental aim of a repository is to ensure that its digital holdings continue to be understandable and usable. For images and simple documents this requires that one can render (display or print) the digital objects. However for scientific data things are different because the meaning of the data e.g. the units, the coordinates etc, are vital if the data is to be used sensibly.

Many repositories have a well-known community e.g. Earth Scientists, however there will be details of any dataset which are not known to all Earth Scientists. Earth scientists will know many (perhaps all) of the underlying concepts, however many will not know the details of every dataset well enough to understand and use them.

What is needed is to be able to supply users with enough extra information, for example documents or software or other data, to understand the dataset (this is called Representation Information in the OAIS Reference Model, a standard which is very widely used for archives).

It appears that many repositories do not have adequate Representation Information for their datasets. The depth of this Representation Information (e.g. does it need to contain an explanation of some basic concepts of some Earth Science sub-discipline?) depends on the community that the data is being preserved for.

Do you have enough Representation Information?

Something else you may wish to do is to enable a different, perhaps broader, community to make use of your data.

If these ideas are relevant to you then SCIDIP-ES can help with a number of specific tools:

  • The Registry service will enables you to share and re-use Representation Information created by other people – try it at [simple-links category=”6″]
  • RepInfo and Preservation Strategy Toolkit will help you to plan and create Representation Information – try it at [simple-links category=”11″]
  • The Gap Identification Service can help you define the basic knowledge your users need to know – try it at [simple-links category=”5″]

Can you prove your data is what you claim it is?

Your users probably know you and trust you. They know that you have taken the greatest care of your data and that it cannot have been altered without your knowledge.

It appears that many repositories (especially scientific repositories) work on the basis of trust like this. However when the archive manager leaves, or if someone new asks for proof, it is difficult to prove the authenticity of the datasets.

Might you need to provide evidence about the authenticity of your repository’s datasets to others? If so the HAPPI toolkit may help -try it at [simple-links category=”12″]

Can you keep track of all changes that might affect your repository?

There are many changes that happen over time which may affect the preservation of your datasets. After all, if nothing changed then we would not need to do much to preserve our data. Changes could range from new versions of software becoming available, to old tacit knowledge being replaced by new ones, to hardware becoming obsolete.

It is difficult for any one person to keep track of these changes.

The Orchestration service allows you to subscribe to an alert system to help keep you informed about changes – try it at [simple-links category=”7″]