Jisc offers new preservation service

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Liz Bal, director of open research services at Jisc

Preservation, a new Jisc service, is aimed at making it easier for institutions to keep their digital collections accessible and reusable, comply with multiple mandates and fulfil their statutory obligations.

Developed with input from Jisc members and leading preservation system suppliers, Jisc’s Preservation is a tool that can be used to preserve any digital asset, such as special collections, electronic records management and research data. The tool keeps multiple copies of selected data, automates checks to make sure data has not been changed and converts data in old formats to newer ones so it can be used with new technology.  Preservation is based on industry standard systems Artefactual and Preservica.

Liz Bal, director of open research services at Jisc, said: 'We are delighted to launch the first in a series of solutions to help universities keep their digital assets safe and accessible. Short-term, file-saving solutions and one-time deposit files can usually make digital assets findable, but their usability will deteriorate over time when new software evolves, and formats are no longer compatible. Our Preservation system is designed for a wide range of use cases over and beyond research and will help universities to future-proof the use of information even beyond the lifetime of existing systems and formats.'

Institutions are increasingly looking to advance the reuse of data boosting their data impact, which is important for their REF score, the system that assesses the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

Preservation also plays a key role in protecting the reputation of researchers and their institutions. This Jisc tool preserves data and computer code underpinning research, which allows others to reproduce and validate results – in some cases, many years after the original project has finished.

Dr William Kilbride, director of the Digital Preservation Coalition, welcomed the new initiative: 'Digital preservation is a significant and emergent challenge which needs continuing assessment and renewal as technologies and use cases change. Research data is just one example, occupying a significant proportion of the Bit List of Digitally Endangered Species.  The threats of obsolescence or loss are amplified where the technical challenges are high and responsibilities diffuse.   Services like this reduce those risks giving institutions the confidence and the opportunity to realise the enduring value of their digital assets.'