Charles Beagrie Ltd

Reflections on the 2nd Digital Preservation Handbook Book Sprint 18-19 May 2015

Another rewarding but exhausting couple of days! We completed a two day book sprint in Kew earlier this week focussing on developing more new content for the release of the next edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook that is being funded by The National Archives, the British Library, and Jisc. Really pleased with the outputs and progress we made.

This is now the second book sprint we have held and we have been able to build on the sterling work at the first sprint held in October last year.

A group of 9 people Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd), Glenn Cumisky (British Museum), Matt Faber (Jisc), Stephen Grace (University of East London), Alex Green (The National Archives), William Kilbride (DPC), Gareth Knight (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), Sharon McMeekin (DPC), and Paul Wheatley (DPC), met up over two days to progress sections of the content for the new “ Getting Started” and “Organisational Activities” sections of the Handbook (as identified in the Draft Outline of the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook). We also progressed some sub-sections of “Technical Solutions and Tools” left over from Book Sprint 1. The venue for the sprint was kindly provided by The National Archives in their Kew building.

We completed draft sections for:

Getting Started

Creating digital materials

Acquisition and appraisal

Retention and review


Metadata and documentation


Information Security

Persistent Identifiers

We covered more topics than the first sprint so were occasionally thinly spread: as a cautionary note we may need to review our draft content carefully to ensure the final outputs have the breadth and depth of perspective we aim for:  what I have read so far has been terrific although inevitably it will need some more content adding and final polishing.

The revision has been guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook) in short to keep the Handbook text practical, concise, and accessible with more detail available in the case studies and further reading.

We used a different tool from book sprint 1 and successfully adopted Google Docs for our collaborative writing.

A two-day book sprint was very intense but few could have spared more time away from the workplace, and a tight-deadline helped everyone focus on the tasks in hand.

We followed a process of scoping contents for a specific section, brainstorming key points for inclusion, writing, and then review.

Participants were also able to see the substantial emerging Handbook content that is already in the DPC content management system together with the excellent illustrations re-used with permission from In addition Google Docs was pre-populated with any relevant text from the previous Handbook, marked in red so it was easily identifiable for review, retention, deletion, amendment or addition/replacement  as needed. The Google Docs were also pre-populated with all case studies and external resources relevant to those sections identified during desk research for the new edition of the Handbook.

The after work drinks in the Tap on the Line and group dinner at Café Mamma were enjoyed by all and allowed everyone to relax and socialise outside the event itself. Next time I will try to remember to take photos for the report!

In June the draft text will be the focus for detailed editorial review, additions, arrangement, proof-reading and input to the DPC content management system. Based on the 1st book sprint that will be at least a two month process after which we will look for peer review to be completed by around the end of September.

It is great to see so much more of the new Handbook there in preliminary form after the sprint. With the contents of the first sprint, supplementary work, and its peer review, there is now substantial draft content emerging for the 2nd edition of the Handbook.

Invitation to comment: New Edition of Digital Preservation Handbook

We are scoping and planning for a new edition of the online Digital Preservation Handbook and would be very grateful if you could contribute your needs and views to this work.

The Digital Preservation Handbook, written by Neil Beagrie and Maggie Jones, is hosted by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), which makes the Handbook freely available as an online resource. The Handbook provides an internationally authoritative and practical online guide that is heavily used for continuous professional development, for university students, and for training in digital preservation.

The National Archives is working together with other stakeholders including Jisc and the British Library, to support the Digital Preservation Coalition in updating and revamping the Handbook. It is anticipated that its revision will be modular and undertaken over a two year period. We request your input via a short online survey.

There are a maximum of 13 questions in total and the survey should take around 10 minutes of your time to complete.

The online questionnaire is accessible at: and the survey will close on Wednesday 16th June.

Thank you in advance for your participation. Your input will make a significant contribution to the scoping of this important online resource and the scheduling of modules for publication.

William Kilbride (Executive Director, Digital Preservation Coalition)

Neil Beagrie (lead author and editor)

Work starting on a New Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook

We are delighted to announce that The National Archives is working with the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), Charles Beagrie Ltd, Jisc and the British Library to update and revamp a key online resource for managing digital resources over time, the online edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook.

The Handbook authored by Neil Beagrie and Maggie Jones, was first published in 2001 in a print edition by the British Library with support from Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries (whose functions have subsequently transferred to The National Archives and the Arts Council)and Jisc. The online edition was launched in 2002 on the Digital Preservation Coalition website. It remains heavily used by archivists and other information professionals.

The National Archives and the Digital Preservation Coalition and ourselves will work with expert partners over the next two years to develop the new look Handbook as an interactive online resource.

‘I’m delighted to be working with The National Archives on this important project’, said William Kilbride of the DPC.  The original handbook remains very popular so we have been loathed to take it down, but we’ve been aware for a while that it was becoming increasingly out of date.  Our experience shows that there is a real demand for concise and practical advice on preservation so I am confident that this new edition will be immediately popular’.

The project to deliver the resource is a joint venture between The National Archives, the DPC and Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd), one of the original authors of the report, with further contributions from Jisc which was one of the initial co-funders and the British Library who published the original handbook.

‘I’m looking forward to starting this important revision’, said Neil Beagrie.  ‘It’s not just a few updates to the text: we will be basing the new handbook on an extensive process of consultation to make sure that the new edition measures up to people’s real and emerging need and, to make sure that it highlights good practice.  We aim to make sure it binds together other sources of advice (including the many excellent reports in the DPC Technology Watch series) and that it provides authoritative and concise advice for topics that are not supported by other resources.’

The online element will ensure the Handbook can be easily updated over time, incorporating case studies and a view from current practitioners to ensure it is relevant to a wide audience, from beginners to those with more specialist needs. We hope the Handbook will help individuals from a wide range of organisations adopt a step-by-step approach to addressing their digital resource management needs.

Coming soon: May publication and webinar dates for TNA Cloud Storage and Digital Preservation Guidance


We are pleased to announce that our recent work on the TNA Cloud Storage and Digital Preservation Guidance and five accompanying case studies will be published and released on the TNA website next week.

To accompany the release of the Guidance, TNA will be hosting a free webinar with the authors (Neil Beagrie, Andrew Charlesworth, and Paul Miller) and Emma Markiewicz from TNA between 12.30-13.30pm on Tuesday 13th May.

The webinar will have a short presentation on the Guidance and will also provide an opportunity for you to put any questions or burning issues you may have to us and TNA.

Registration for the webinar is now open at

To avoid disappointment, please register well in advance as numbers will be limited. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

You are welcome to submit questions in advance for the webinar via the comments field below or via email to

What is the Impact of Research Data in the Arts and Humanities?

The AHRC periodically commissions case studies to investigate the impact and value of AHRC-funded research. Across the series as a whole, impact has been defined in its broadest sense to include, economic, social, and cultural elements. The latest AHRC case study, Safeguarding our heritage for the future, focuses on the impact of data sharing and curation through the Archaeology Data Service.

It cites some of the Jisc-funded “The Value and Impact of the Archaeology Data Service: A study and methods for enhancing sustainability” study by ourselves and John Houghton.

There is the headline research efficiency impact message on page 1 and the relevant detail on page 2 of the case study as follows:

“JISC commissioned research carried out in 2012 found that the ADS has a broad user group which goes well beyond academia: whilst 38% of users are conducting academic research, 19% use ADS for private research;17% for general interest enquiries; 11% are Heritage Management users and 8% are commercial users; 6% use it to support teaching and learning activities; and 1% use it for family history research. The ADS is respected as an invaluable resource, saving users time and therefore money, and providing security for those who use the service to deposit their data. A significant increase in research efficiency was reported by users as a result of using the ADS, worth at least £13 million per annum – five times the costs of operation, data deposit and use. A potential increase in return on investment resulting from the additional use facilitated by ADS may be worth between £2.4 million and £9.7 million over thirty years in net present value from one-year’s investment – a 2-fold to 8-fold return on investment.”

The pdf version of the Safeguarding our heritage for the future case study  is available for download on the AHRC website.

AHRC Case Study



Cloud Storage and Archives


I am leading a Charles Beagrie team consisting of myself, Paul Miller (from Cloud of Data), and Andrew Charlesworth (Reader in IT Law, University of Bristol), which is funded by The National Archives to address questions that archivists have raised about digital preservation and the cloud.

We have been preparing guidance and case studies to assist the archives sector understand and share emerging best practice.  There is a guest blog ‘cloud storage and archives: a match made in heaven?’ posted today on the TNA website introducing the work and future plans. Our team member Paul Miller also posted an earlier blog entry during January called ‘Can the cloud do ‘in perpetuity’?‘ that introduced some of the key issues and questions.

The guidance and case studies are being reviewed currently prior to their planned release in the second quarter of this year, when they will be published and announced on The National Archives’ website. To accompany the publication of the guidance and a future update, we are planning two webinars with TNA for archivists on digital preservation and the cloud. The first will be in mid-May 2014 and the second in early 2015.

Measuring the Value and Impact of Research Data Curation and Sharing

My colleague John Houghton gave an excellent 20 minute Presentation at the October 2013 Open Access Research Conference in Brisbane on recent studies conducted by Charles Beagrie Ltd and Victoria University covering the value and impact of sharing research data via three UK research data centres. I highly recommend it as an accessible, concise, overview. The video of the presentation is now available at

It summarises recent studies exploring the impact and value of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). The aim of the studies was to both assess the costs, benefits, value and impacts of the data centres, and to test a range of economic methods in order to ascertain which methods might work across three very different fields, with very different data production and use practices, and very different user communities. The presentation focuses on the methods used and lessons learned, as well as the headline findings.

As blogged previously the three reports for the ESDS, ADS, and BADC are all available now as individual open-access publications. A short synthesis of all three reports is being published by Jisc in the New Year.

Digital Preservation Technology Watch Reports pass 50,000 Downloads

Yesterday the new series of Digital Preservation Coalition Technology Watch Reports passed the 50,000 downloads mark for the first time: these are downloads by real users excluding robots etc.

The new series was launched publicly in 2011 with Preserving Email by Chris Prom and there are now 8 titles published since that date. All have proved very popular: Preserving Email still heads the group with over 13,000 downloads (but has been available for longest), followed by Preserving Moving Picture and Sound with over 9,000, and Digital Forensics and Preservation with over 8,000.

The new series was chosen by the Library of Congress as one of its Top 10 Digital Preservation Developments of 2012.

The reports are published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as editors and Neil Beagrie as Principal Investigator and managing editor of the series. The series is intended as an advanced introduction to specific issues for those charged with establishing or running services for long term access.  They identify and track developments in IT, standards and tools which are critical to digital preservation activities. All are released as open-access publications after a preview period of exclusive access to DPC members.

The DPC Technology Watch Report Series publications are freely available online from the DPC website at:

New services page and website updates

Sharp-eyed regular visitors may have noticed we have made a number of changes and some re-design to the website in recent months.

One major addition has been the Services webpage providing examples of some of the broad areas of work  we undertake and providing a different view of selected projects from our Clients  page.

A batch of updates have also been added to most other sections of the website, including in publications several new reports and book chapters released since the summer.

The re-design changes are quite subtle, so you might need to compare it to an old version in a Web Archive to see them  – perhaps compare with the UK Web Archive April 2012 version. More significant (but “under the hood”) was the move over the summer to a new server and to using Django, a high-level Python Web framework for the coding. Hopefully this was so seamless you will not have noticed the transition.

All comments and feedback welcome!

The Value and Impact of The Archaeology Data Service: findings released on research data sharing and curation

Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd and Professor John Houghton of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) are pleased to announce the release of their final report from the Jisc study which examined the value and impact of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). The aim of this study is to explore and attempt to measure the value and impact of the ADS. A range of economic approaches were used to analyses data gathered through online surveys, and user and depositor statistics, to supplement and extend other non-economic perceptions of value.

The study reveals the benefits of integrating qualitative approaches exploring user perceptions and non-economic dimensions of value with quantitative economic approaches to measuring the value and impacts of research data services. Such a mix of methods is important in capturing and presenting the full range and dimensions of value. The approaches are complementary and mutually reinforcing, with stakeholder perceptions matching the economic findings. For example, both qualitative and quantitative analysis highlights the important contribution of ADS data and services to research efficiency.

The study has changed stakeholder perceptions, increasing recognition of the value of the ADS and digital archiving and data sharing generally. Most stakeholders already valued ADS highly, but felt the study had extended their understanding of the scope of that value, and the degree of its value to other stakeholders. They were positive about seeing value expressed in economic terms, as this was something they had not previously considered or seen presented,

The report is available for download as a PDF file at:

This report forms part of a series of independent studies produced by the authors on the value and impact of three UK research data centres. The other data centres already reported upon are the Economic and Social Research Data Service (ESDS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). To summarise and facilitate dissemination of the key findings from all three data centre studies a separate synthesis is currently being prepared by Jisc.

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