You may remember that on the Digital Curation Blog and the JISC-Repositories JISCmail list on 23 February 2009, I referred to some feedback from two Ideas (here and here) on the JISC Ideascale site last year, and asked 3 further questions relating to repository managers’ views of the intentions of their repositories. Given a low rate of response to the original posting (which asked for votes on the original Ideascale site), I followed this up on the JISC-Repositories list (but through oversight, not on the blog), offering the same 3 questions in a Doodle poll. The results of the several different votes appear contradictory, although I hope we can glean something useful from them.
I should emphasise that this is definitely not methodologically sound research; in fact, there are methodological holes here large enough to drive a Mack truck through! Nevertheless, we may be able to glean something useful. To recap, here are the various questions I asked, with a brief description of their audience, plus the outcomes:
a) Audience, JISC-selected “expert” group of developers, repository managers and assorted luminaries. Second point is the same audience, a little later.I guess the first thing is to notice the differences between the 3 sets of results. The first would imply that long term is definitely off the agenda, and medium term is reasonable. The second is 50-50 split between long term and the short/medium term combination. The third is overwhelmingly in favour of long term (as defined).
b) Audience JISC-Repositories list and Digital Curation Blog readership. Three Ideas on Ideascale, with the results shown (note, respondents did not need to identify themselves):
- Idea: “The repository should be a full OAIS [CCSDS 2002] preservation system.” Result 3 votes in favour, 16 votes against, net -13 votes.
- Idea: “Repository should aspire to make contents accessible and usable over the medium term.” Result: 13 votes in favour, 1 vote against, net +12 votes.
A further comment was left on the Digital Curation Blog, to the effect that since most repository managers were mainly seeing deposit of PDFs, they felt (perhaps naively) sufficiently confident to assume these would be useable for 10 years.
- My repository does not aim for accessibility and/or usability of its contents beyond the short term (say 3 years). Result 2 votes in favour, none against.
- My repository aims for accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the medium term (say 4 to 10 years). Result 5 votes in favour, none against.
- My repository aims for accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the long term (say greater than 10 years). Result 8 votes in favour, 1 vote against, net +7 votes.
c) Audience JISC-Repositories list. Three exclusive options on a Doodle poll, exact wording as in (c), no option to vote against any option, with the results shown below (note, Doodle asks respondents to provide a name and most did, with affiliation, although there is no validation of the name supplied):
- My repository does not aim for accessibility and/or usability of its contents beyond the short term (say 3 years). Result 1 vote in favour.
- My repository aims for accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the medium term (say 4 to 10 years). Result 0 votes in favour.
- My repository aims for accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the long term (say greater than 10 years). Result 22 votes in favour.
By now you can also see at least some of the methodological problems, including differing audiences, differing anonymity, and differing wording (firstly in relation to the use of the term “OAIS”, and secondly in relation to the timescales attached to short, medium and long term). So, you can draw your own conclusions, including that none can be drawn from the available data!
Note, I would not draw any conclusions from the actual numerical votes on their own, but perhaps we can from the values within each group. However, ever hasty if not foolhardy, here are my own tentative interpretations:
- First, even “experts” are alarmed at the potential implications of the term “OAIS”.
- Second, repository managers don’t believe that keeping resources accessible and/or usable for 10 years (in the context of the types of material they currently manage in repositories) will give them major problems.
- Third, repository managers don’t identify “accessibility and/or usability of its contents for the long term” as implying the mechanisms of an OAIS (this is perhaps rather a stretch given my second conclusion).
Are those reasonable questions? Or perhaps, please help me improve them!
- My repository is resourced and is intended to keep its contents accessible and usable for the long term, through potential technology and community changes, implying at least some of the requirements of an OAIS.
- My repository is resourced and is intended to keep its contents accessible and usable unless there are significant changes in technology or community, ie it does not aim to be an OAIS.
- Some other choice, please explain in free text…
This post is made both to the Digital Curation Blog and to the JISC-repositories list...
OAIS: CCSDS. (2002). Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). Retrieved from http://public.ccsds.org/publications/archive/650x0b1.pdf.