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New Resources page on Charles Beagrie Website

We have produced a new resources pages on our website describing all the outputs we have produced which are publicly available and accessible on open access to students and practitioners interested in our work. Areas described include Cost/Benefit, Impact, Technology Watch, Digital Preservation Policies and Strategies. Conference presentations, and other digital preservation resources. These are linked either to outputs on our website or on the websites of clients and partners. An extract of the page is shown below.

Breaking News: Digital Preservation Handbook Update October 2015

Originally published in 2001 as a paper edition, ‘Preservation and Management of Digital Materials: a Handbook’ was the first attempt in the UK to synthesise the diverse and burgeoning sources of advice on digital preservation. Demand was so great that in 2002, a free online edition of the Handbook was published by the newly established Digital Preservation Coalition.

After more than a decade, in which digital preservation has been transformed, the Handbook remains among the most heavily used area of the DPC website.

Funders and organisations are collaborating on re-designing, expanding and updating the Handbook so it can continue to grow as a major open-access resource for digital preservation. The DPC and Charles Beagrie Ltd have been engaged on a major re-working of the Digital Preservation Handbook for release as a new edition over 2015/2016. The National Archives (our Gold Sponsor) working together with other stakeholders including Jisc, the British Library, and The Archives and Records Association (our Bronze sponsors), is supporting the Digital Preservation Coalition in updating and revamping the Handbook. Many individuals and organisations are also contributing to this work through book sprints, peer review, project and advisory boards.

The revision, guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook), is modular and being undertaken over a two year period to March 2016.

We have provided updates at regular intervals to inform the community on progress with the project and with this October update we are delighted to announce a number of key developments.

Publication Schedule

We are pleased to share the news that a critical mass of content has been prepared and peer reviewed and the project board has agreed we should release a majority of the Handbook.  DPC members have already seen the emerging revised 2nd Edition of the Handbook on the members’ private area and this has been switched to the public side of the DPC website. This partial release will be further enhanced by additional functionality when a new platform for the website focused on ‘responsive design’ is brought on stream by the DPC early in 2016. This will provide an updated design and improved user experience on mobile and tablet devices, compared to the current site templates that are optimised for viewing on a desktop screen. We will also add the facility to generate PDFs. We hope to complete remaining sections of the Handbook for a formal full publication release of the Handbook by March 2016. In the interim some functionality and content will remain “works in progress” but the community will gain early access to a significant new resource.

ARA joins funding group

The Digital Preservation Coalition was delighted to announce in September that The Archives and Records Association (ARA) had come on board as a ‘Bronze Sponsor’ for the eagerly anticipated second edition of the ‘Digital Preservation Handbook’. As of Oct 2015, with the addition of the ARA we have raised 87% of estimated funding required for the Handbook revision and continue working to complete it.

Section Illustrations and icons

We are using graphics available from digitalbevaring.dk (http://digitalbevaring.dk/about-us/) for main sections of the Handbook. They have kindly worked in collaboration with us to develop new illustrations when we have identified topics in the Handbook requiring new graphics for illustrations or icons.

New resources icon designs were received over the summer from digitalbevaring.dk  and the interim versions have been replaced in the Handbook. These are the new set:            

 

They are embedded now in all the Resources and Case Studies sections of the Handbook. It means there is now a consistent style to the Handbook with the icons and section heading illustrations sharing the same design, something we all felt was desirable. We are very pleased with the results and overall look that is now in place, and with the collaboration with digitalbevaring.dk that has added a lot to the visual appeal of the Handbook.

Multi-media

Multi-media resources where relevant have been selected and embedded in the Handbook. Selection has focussed on short, high-quality videos that can add significant value to experience and content.

Handbook Workshop at DCDC15

A workshop on the Digital Preservation Handbook was run at the DCDC15 conference in early October. Powerpoint slides from the Handbook presentation are now available on Slideshare. They provide a detailed overview of the new edition Handbook and work in progress.

 

SlideShare: How institutional mandates and preservation strategies are changing with digital content

This slideshare, Maintaining a Vision: how mandates and strategies are changing with digital content, is one I like and is a keynote given to the 2013 Screening the Future conference in London.

It is the penultimate of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The final one to come will be published in December 2015.

My brief  for this conference keynote was to focus on how  institutional responses to collection and preservation mandates are realized and stretched by the digital…do existing institutions just ‘go digital’ but otherwise claim ‘business as usual’ [or not]?

The Talk had an AV focus given the nature of the conference but I think the messages will be of broad interest. It was in three parts:

The Changes: covering how digital content (including AV content) has changed the nature of typical collections across sectors; how it has shifted the scale of available content; and how content has fragmented and the number of content creators proliferated.

The Responses: covering how we have seen in response the growth of cross-sectoral preservation exchange (different sectoral membership of the DPC; Technology Watch Reports; the national coalitions worldwide such as nestor, NCDD, NDSA, etc); the development of shared services and outsourcing (e.g. digital preservation services in the cloud); and in some cases a range of cross-sector mergers (particularly of national archives and national libraries).

Conclusions:

What is changing? We are seeing multi-media permeating sectoral boundaries; greater shared interests and convergence of interests across different sectors; and a massive shift in the scale and management of digital media.

The responses?  We are seeing new alliances and partnerships; digital preservation exchange across sectors; some mergers and partnerships across established boundaries; and more shared services and outsourcing.

Finally, if you want to know the answer to the question “When was the beginning of the Digital Age” posed in previous posts, the answer is here in slide 8:

 

Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS)

Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS), a workshop presentation from 2010 available now on Slideshare, is the ninth of 12 presentations I have selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remaining two to come will be published at monthly intervals over November and December 2015.

This presentation was given as part of the KB Experts Workshop on Digital Preservation Costs, held at The Hague in the Netherlands in 2010.

Although very small in terms of budget, the KRDS projects were terrific examples of collaboration to achieve influential results and the pleasure and value of working with colleagues from many disparate fields and organisations. I’ve selected it as an example of doing great things on small budgets if you have the right people, and for its influence on subsequent work both by me (e.g. impact studies) and on the field generally. For me, in terms of personal follow-up and later projects, the costs element of KRDS has been less important than the benefits side which has led to a series of project on impact with John Houghton (more on this in the final Slideshare in December).

The KB requested a briefing document on each cost model presented at the workshop in the form of responses to their set questions. I have reproduced mine for the KRDS presentation below – it captures lots of interesting context for the slides. I have added links to the KRDS Factsheet and KRDS costs data survey to it.

THE KEEPING RESEARCH DATA SAFE MODEL

Outline:

1. General presentation of the cost model

What is the purpose of the cost model?  The KRDS model aims to support the costing of digital preservation of research datasets and assessment of the benefits of preservation. A significant proportion of its work is also focussed on identification of preservation cost data sources and methods which could support any model. It is currently primarily a set of tools and methods to construct a localised model rather than a pre-developed generic costing tool. Further information on findings from the KRDS projects is available in the KRDS Factsheet.

Who are the users? – The primary audience is research organisations in the UK but organisations in other countries and sectors can adopt parts of the model and its methodologies.

What preservation strategies does it handle? – It can accommodate any preservation strategy or service strategy (e.g. outsourcing or shared services as well as preservation in-house).

What is the target data? – Research data from the sciences, social sciences, or arts and humanities.

What time perspective does it cover? – Any time period.

2. What method is the cost model based on?

What reference is the model based on?  – The model uses OAIS with extensions and adaptations by the project team.

What financial principles is it based on? – It is modelled to adopt the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) a full economic costs (FEC) model approved by UK research funders and universities.

Which costing approach have you adopted?– We use an activity based costing approach supported by a Benefits Taxonomy for assessing benefits.

What implementation have you chosen? – N/A

3. Which challenges do you currently see in relation to cost modelling?

Special issues – General cost model challenges? –

Primarily a lack of good quality preservation cost data from a range of different types of archive and data types (see our KRDS costs data survey) which can be used to underpin and develop models.

Secondly an excessive focus on costs (rather than cost/benefits) and also sometimes a too limited focus on costs of preservation strategies rather than preservation service costs as a whole.

Occasional over-reliance on research project or start-up cost data which will not be representative of operational preservation costs.

The degree of confidence that can be placed in results from cost models. How reliable is any cost prediction for a model and how does that change over time or other variables?

4. What are the opportunities for standardisation of cost models and collaboration between projects?

Possible standardisation and alignment of cost models? – I think cost models always need to be tailored to some degree to different audiences/sectors and prospects for standardisation and alignment may be variable. Some areas e.g. digital storage costs may be more promising than others.

Collaboration? – I can see beneficial opportunities for both formal and informal partnerships between projects and organisations. There may be opportunities for European and international collaboration.

5. What are your initial comments and feedback on the draft decision tree appended below?

A decision tree could start much earlier and involve different decisions on the cost model itself e.g. scope of activities, level of detail, and sources of data.

6. Please provide a short one paragraph biography for yourself

Neil Beagrie is director of consultancy at Charles Beagrie and principal investigator for the JISC Keeping Research Data Safe project which has investigated the costs and benefits of digital preservation for research data. He is an experienced senior consultant and an internationally recognised expert with extensive experience in information management, digital preservation, and developing access to digital collections.

20 years in DP: Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, Vienna 2005

Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, my keynote presentation to the European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL), 2005, in Vienna Austria available now on Slideshare is the seventh of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

This presentation represents a thought piece and call to arms to focus more on the collection and preservation of personal digital archives. It was given as a keynote to ECDL but also formed the core of my Banks Lecture at the University of Texas in April 2006 on Preservation and Access for Personal Digital Archives and Literary Papers.

Many of the ideas in the presentation were developed in greater detail in an article in D-Lib June 2005 Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, in my contribution to the Memories for Life project (c.2004-2006) and our publication in the Royal Society Interface Journal in June 2006 Memories for Life: a review of the science and technology, and in my initial work as Principal Investigator on the Digital Lives research project involving the British Library and UCL. It is an area of interest I had to leave behind on departing the BL and focussing full-time on consultancy. However it has been great to be editor on behalf of the DPC for the forthcoming Technology Watch Report by Gabriela Redwine on Preserving Personal Digital Archives that should be released later this year on the DPC website.

Over recent years this area has blossomed with an annual conference since 2010 on Personal Digital Archiving and many special collections and research projects developed in libraries. We are beginning to see mass market shared services for lifelogging and personal collection emerging but the key focus of growth currently seems to be on health data. Broader issues though for the public are still surfacing: there has been growing publicity around digital legacy issues for social media and even guidance from the Law Society in the UK on digital legacy and executors. It remains a fascinating area for digital preservation.

20 years in DP: eScience and Digital Preservation 2004

eScience and Digital Preservation, presentation to Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) conference November 2004, Rhode Island USA, available now on Slideshare is the sixth of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

It is closely related to the previous slideshare for May on the Jisc continuing access and digital preservation strategy but focuses just on the science component.

This is one I wasn’t able to present in person but it was kindly delivered by Gail Hodge.

My brief for the presentation was “thoughts or citations you have for the impact of e-science, particularly the GRID, on information management, particularly archiving, preservation and long-term access.”

It is a short presentation of 15 slides covering collection-based science, the Grid, data publishing, and the background and rationale for the Digital Curation Centre (just launched two weeks before in the UK).

It is a snapshot in time and of key issues in 2004 – interesting to contrast with what one would write 10 years on and ponder on progress made.

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

Preservation

Metadata and documentation

Access

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 digitalbevaring.dk. 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.

Reflections on the Digital Preservation Handbook Book Sprint 28-29 October 2014

What a terrific couple of days! We completed a two day book sprint in London last week focussing on developing new content for the first 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.

A group of 11 people Matthew Addis (Arkivum), Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd), Stephanie Davidson (West Yorkshire Archive Service), Michael Day (British Library), Matt Faber (Jisc), Chris Fryer (Parliamentary Archives), Anna Henry (the Tate Gallery), William Kilbride (DPC), Ed Pinsent (ULCC), Virginia Power (Jisc), Susan Thomas (Bodleian Library Oxford), met up over two days to progress sections of the content for the new “Technical Solutions and Tools” chapter of the Handbook (as identified in the Draft Outline of the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook). Accommodation for the sprint was kindly provided by the Jisc in their central London offices via the good offices of Neil Grindley.

We have completed draft sections for:

  • Tools (including guidance on Tool Registries)
  • Media and Storage
  • File Formats
  • Digital Forensics

In addition a content outline was agreed for the “Getting Started” sub-section of the Introduction.  Alongside this work, other sections including the Background, How to Use the Handbook, Definitions and Concepts, Acronyms and Initials, and References have been partially revised as we went.

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.

This was the first book sprint for all bar one of the participants. We learnt a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of “Booktype” the open source software we used that had been developed to help support this type of activity, eventually settling on using it in parallel with collaborative text tools such as Google Docs to get the best from each approach. A two-day book sprint was very intense but few could have spared more time away from the workplace, and as one participant said a tight-deadline helped everyone focus on the tasks in hand.

At the end of the sprint the challenge was set to aim to make the new content available within 3 months – we hope sufficient additional sections to create a ready critical mass, potentially the complete Tools and Solutions Chapter of the Handbook can be readied and transferred to the DPC website and reviewed for release in the New Year.

Survey results and the contents outline for new edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook just published

A big thank-you from Neil Beagrie and William Kilbride to everyone who contributed to the recent audience research survey or who  commented on the potential contents outline for the new edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook.

Following that work, the DPC and Charles Beagrie Ltd are delighted to announce the release two important documents which will form the foundations of the new edition of the DPC Digital Preservation Handbook: the results of a major survey into audience needs, an the first full outline of content.

‘We are very keen to make sure that the new edition of the handbook fits with people’s actual needs so we were very encouraged by the substantial response to the consultation document which we sent out before summer’ explained Neil Beagrie who is editor and lead author of the new edition of the handbook. ‘We estimate that the digital preservation community represented on the JiscMail list numbers around 1500 people in total: and there were 285 responses to the survey.’

‘It a very large sample of the community but it’s also re-assuringly diverse.  There’s a strong representation from higher education and public sector agencies but there’s also a sizeable group from industry, from charities as well as museums and community interest groups.  When asked if they would use the handbook, not a single respondent said no.’

‘The survey has directly informed the contents of the new handbook’, explained William Kilbride, Execuitve Director of the DPC.  ‘We started with an idea of the gaps and the many parts that had become outdated since the original handbook was published.  So we invited users to tell us what they wanted and how they wanted it – both in terms of content and presentation.  The project team has responded thoughtfully to these requests so I am confident that the resulting list of content is tailored to people’s needs. But we remain open to suggestions and comments’

‘This will help ensure that the handbook remains relevant for many years to come.’

The two documents are available as follows:

Science and Innovation: ESDS Impact study is 1 of 3 Stand-Out Studies Internationally

Our ESDS Impact Study was selected in a recent BIS report as one of just three studies internationally considered to “stand out as being particularly good examples of good practice in the measurement of economic impacts”.

In case readers haven’t seen it (or like us have a large “to read pile”), we are flagging up the “Big Science and Innovation” report undertaken for the UK Government Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) that was published in October last year (Technopolis 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/big-science-and-innovation–2 ).

The report presents the findings of a study to explore the impact of large research facilities on innovation and the economy. It is a reference document, providing advice about approaches to the evaluation of innovation outcomes alongside a review and bibliography of around 100 past evaluations internationally.

The report mentions our impact study of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) for the ESRC on pages 31-32, 36, 37 and appendix E on p87. They discuss our strengths and weaknesses on p91 (note our Archaeology Data Service and British Atmospheric Data Centre impact studies were underway but had not reported when this report was being written). They noted the element of the counter factual in our approaches (the only study they found to do so), but do not really mention that we did address the issue of representativeness through weighting the results, and had innovation impacts (highly and implicitly) in the return on investment model.

They identified 18 published reports that had measured the economic benefits made possible by specific research infrastructures, and which they considered to be of sufficient quality to be instructive to BIS and colleagues. John and I were very pleased to be selected and highlighted to BIS as one of just three studies which they considered to stand out as being particularly good examples of good practice in the measurement of economic impacts from all the international studies they reviewed. The three good practice studies were:

  • The economic impact study for the Berkeley Lab (by CBRE Consulting, 2010)
  • The study of the economic impact of the Human Genome Project (by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, 2011)
  • The economic impact evaluation of the Economic and Social Data Service (carried out by Charles Beagrie Ltd and The Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) University of Victoria, 2012)

On completion of the ESDS, ADS and BADC impact studies, we authored a synthesis to summarise and reflect on the combined findings. This was published by Jisc earlier this year see The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation: A synthesis of three recent studies of UK research data centres. If you are interested in our ESDS impact study and the methods, issues, and findings, we would recommend the synthesis for a short overview and summary of our work. Alternatively, the full report of the ESDS study is available from the ESRC website.

Neil Beagrie and John Houghton

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