January 2008

Archaeology Data Service Charging Policy

I’m currently looking closely at various efforts by different organisations to capture and model digital preservation costs as part of our work for JISC on developing a preservation cost model for research data.

As part of desk research for that work I have re-visited the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) Charging Policy now in its 4th edition (November 2007). I remember its first edition 10 years ago and being invited to comment on it when I was at the Arts and Humanities Data Service. It has continued to develop over the last 10 years but lost none of its accessibility and (professional) interest.

In short, it is a very user friendly, concise and informative document aimed at its depositors in the archaeological data community but its treatment of digital preservation costs and the thorny issue of charging are likely to make it of much wider interest hence this blog entry!

Digital Preservation costs are categorised and briefly explained under four headings:

  • management and administration
  • Ingest
  • Dissemination
  • Storage and refreshment

The document identifies charges for standard deposits and levels of service and indicates potential variants and additional costs. There is an accompanying webpage on refreshment costs.

Its a fascinating (honest) and short read – highly recommended.

For those following the aftermath of the AHRC decision to stop funding the AHDS the following snippet from the charging policy may also be of interest:
“The ADS currently receives some core funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The AHRC have indicated that the ADS should investigate a move toward a responsive mode funding for archives created by AHRC funded projects in the long term. In the past the ADS has waived deposit charges for researchers based in UK Higher Education Institutions. Due to the change in our core funding arrangements, from 1st January 2008 ALL deposits, whether from projects created within or outwith UK Higher Education will be subject to some level of charge.”

Google to host research datasets

The Wired Blog gives advanced notice that the domain, http://research.google.com, will soon provide a home for terabytes of open-source scientific datasets. The storage will be free to scientists and access to the data will be free for all. The project, known as Palimpsest, missed its original launch date this week, but will debut soon. It is suggested that Palimsest will fill a major need for scientists who want to openly share their data, and will allow public access to an unprecedented amount of data. For example, two planned datasets are all 120 terabytes of Hubble Space Telescope data and the images from the 10th century manuscript the Archimedes Palimpsest.

Those with long memories (hopefully prevalent amongst digital preservationists!) will also remember the Google/ Nasa memorandum of understanding signed in September 2005 that ‘outlines plans for cooperation on a variety of areas, including large-scale data management, massively distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, and encouragement of the entrepreneurial space industry’ so perhaps we should expect more major announcements along these lines from Google and NASA in months to come.

JISC Research Data Preservation Costs Study

I’m pleased to announce on the blog that Charles Beagrie Limited was awarded in December the contract to complete a study of research data preservation costs by JISC. Its an important and topical study as a joint NSF/JISC/Mellon Blue Ribbon Taskforce is about to start its two year assignment to look at sustainable digital preservation and access this month and there are moves to undertake a feasibility study during 2008 for a shared service for preservation of research data in UK universities.

The study has a demanding timescale (we have to report by the end of March) but it will be a pleasure to work with our associate Julia Chruszcz, Brian Lavoie at OCLC and colleagues at the universities of Cambridge, Southampton and King’s College London on this assignment. Work is now well underway.

Very briefly, the JISC is expecting the study should:

  1. Investigate the costs (direct and indirect) of preserving research data, from an institution’s point of view
  2. Construct a list of issues which universities will need to consider when determining the medium to long-term costs of data preservation
  3. Attempt to establish a methodology which will help institutions estimate the cost per unit of research data preserved
  4. Compare the costs of each different model of preservation (eg. shared services, institutional repository, discipline focused, centralised)
  5. Consider the direct and indirect costs of data preservation in the next 5-10 years and beyond.

I will post further information on the study and draft outcomes at the end of March 2008.