Saturday, 5 January 2008

10 Downing St on AHDS...

How exciting to receive an email from 10 Downing St this morning! It tells me that "The Prime Minister's Office has responded to [the AHDS] petition and you can view it here"

This refers to the AHRC's decision to cease funding the AHDS, which this blog discussed earlier. I signed the petition, the details of which were:
"On 11 May 2007, Professor Phillip Esler, Chief Executive of the AHRC, wrote to University Vice-Chancellors informing them of the Council's decision to withdraw funding from the AHDS after eleven years. The AHDS has pioneered and encouraged awareness and use among Britain's university researchers in the arts and humanities of best practice in preserving digital data created by research projects funded by public money. It has also ensured that this data remains publically available for future researchers. It is by no means evident that a suitable replacement infrastructure will be established and the AHRC appears to have taken no adequate steps to ensure the continued preservation of this data. The AHDS has also played a prominent role in raising awareness of new technologies and innovative practices among UK researchers. We believe that the withdrawal of funding for this body is a retrogade step which will undermine attempts to create in Britain a knowledge economy based on latest technologies. We ask the Prime Minister to urge the AHRC to reconsider this decision."
The Prime Minister's response is:
"Thank you for your e-petition.

"Government policy is that decisions on such services are a matter for the Research Council concerned.

"The Government expects that such decisions would only be taken after a careful review of the service in question. We are aware that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) only took the decision to cease funding the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) after detailed consideration. The Council concluded at its March 2007 meeting that having regard both to the performance and cost of AHDS, this was not something they should continue to fund. There are no grounds for the Government seeking to ask the Council to reconsider that decision."
Well, I guess those who wrote and those who signed the petition didn't expect much more than this. But I think I have yet to see any "suitable replacement infrastructure" and the AHRC still "appears to have taken no adequate steps to ensure the continued preservation of this data".


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