Long-term preservation


Preservation needs to be considered through a prism of motivations and incentives: although there can be no preservation without demand for use, it is not solely about a high degree of predictable use in the future. It is also about having a record regarding what took place at what time in the development of a research chronology. 

The motivations and incentives for this value judgement may not be easily or clearly defined, and it is necessary to face this in the development of policy that organisations can be confident will be implemented as intended. Motivation will play a role in the decisions to be made on every print object as to which should be digitised, its priority in the queue, maintaining the printed version in the meantime, and the printed version once digitised. The incentives to handle the predictions for dataset sizes in the future affect concerns about rising costs, robust formats, and even the ethics around ‘green’ ICT that all organisations face in the coming generation, and rising costs.

A librarian’s responsibility for securing both the records and the budget attached to archiving is combined with the libraries being seen as having the staff with the curation skills required for an effective preservation strategy. However, if this is simply left to be resourced from their diminishing budgets, there is concern about this being a sustainable business model, necessary for strategic planning as preservation naturally demands a long-term approach. It is within this relatively complex and nuanced environment that the policy directives must be formed that will foster the emergence of effective preservation strategies.


RIN’s Statement of Principles sets out four key goals for public policy in this area:

1. Maintain systematic arrangements for preservation that take account of statutory frameworks as well as institutional, the UK research base as well as overseas, and printed formats as well as digital.
2. Secure systematic arrangements to archive published outputs and provide access to the archive.
3. Manage the selection of unpublished records and UK research outputs considering their long-term value.
4. Lobby as necessary for an elite infrastructure that facilitates services in the UK with established expertise in digital curation and preservation.

The references in the Policy Centre can be consulted by stakeholders to develop internal processes, from frameworks to decision-making, but also to assess the actions that are taking place across the scholarly communications community concerning preservation. Coordination of activity is clearly required for an efficient preservation programme that can minimise overlap while paying heed to access requirements. Coordination with other stakeholders will be especially important when pushing for the national initiatives necessary for the infrastructure and expertise that can facilitate effective digital curation and preservation.


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