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IG04: Digital Preservation Policy

This policy outlines the principles of the long-term preservation of University digital content needed to support its core functions and activities and to comply with its legal and regulatory obligations.

Purpose
  • The University recognises that the long-term preservation of its digital content is necessary to support its core functions and activities, to comply with its legal and regulatory obligations and to contribute to the effective overall management of the institution. Digital content includes digital records, research data, publications and any other digital content identified as being required to be kept for the long term.
Scope
  • This Policy applies to everyone who has a contractual relationship with the University and establishes a commitment to the long-term preservation of selected digital content in order to adhere to statutory obligations, protect institutional memory and to meet research needs. This Policy sets out the principles that support the University in actively preserving its digital content to ensure that it is authentic, reliable and accessible for as long as it is required and that it can be made available for legal compliance, secure the corporate memory and support research. 
Responsibilities
  • Digital content which requires long term preservation is identified collaboratively by the creators of the content and the Information and Records Management Advisory Team, Research Data Management Team and Modern Records Centre (MRC) staff. The MRC will produce guidelines and procedures on preparing and managing digital content for transfer to the MRC (University Archives) for long-term preservation.
Compliance
  • Compliance with this policy will be monitored on an ongoing basis, with a focus on: breaches to this policy, exemption requests and the granting of exemptions. Compliance performance will be reported by Information Asset Owners (IAO) monthly to the University Information Management Committee.

Policy Introduction and Purpose

The University recognises that the long-term preservation of its digital content is necessary to support its core functions and activities, to comply with its legal and regulatory obligations and to contribute to the effective overall management of the institution. Digital content includes digital records, research data, publications and any other digital content identified as being required to be kept for the long term. This Policy sets out the principles that support the University in actively preserving its digital content to ensure that it is authentic, reliable and accessible for as long as it is required and that it can be made available for legal compliance, secure the corporate memory and support research.

Scope and Definitions

This Policy applies to everyone who has a contractual relationship with the University including all employees (both full-time and part-time across all grades) and those engaged via the Variable Monthly Staff (VAM) Payroll and Unitemps/other agency contracts. It also includes visiting professors, consultants/self-employed carrying out roles which if carried out by an employee would require disclosure. For purposes of this Policy we will refer to everyone covered as “staff”.

This policy makes provision for how digital content is preserved for the long term at the University of Warwick. Digital content could include digital records (as defined by the Information and Records Management Policy), the outputs of research (including but not exclusively research data, theses, websites, publications) and any other digital content which is likely to be required for business, legal or historical reasons for medium to long term (ten years or more). The policy also includes metadata associated with any of the above.

Not included in the scope of the policy are digital content hosted by the University of Warwick but managed externally such as eBooks, library databases, etc. Hardware is also not included. We will endeavour to work with creators to find emulated solutions to preserve digital content which has specific hardware requirements.

Responsibilities

Role

Function

Digital Strategy Group representative

Responsible

Head of Department

Accountable

Chief Information and Digital Officer
Data Protection Officer

Consult

University Information Management Committee representative

Inform

Principles of this policy

The University has adopted six principles for Digital Preservation, these are:

  1. Sustainability – support to the University in choosing information systems which are interoperable and from which data and metadata can be easily extracted and transferred when updates are required.
  2. Workforce development – develop and maintain an environment where staff are made aware of the latest developments in digital preservation and can access the relevant training and information.
  3. Advocacy – ongoing awareness raising of why digital preservation is important and how it links to good information management practice.
  4. Collaboration – commitment to membership of networks and investment of time and resource in regional/national/international organisations to ensure good practice is embedded, shared and disseminated.
  5. Transparency – promote concept of authenticity of digital content by helping make processes transparent so it is clear what actions have been taken to change or alter the digital content during their lifecycles.
  6. Accountability – promote the development and management of accurate preservation management documentation to ensure archival processes can be understood and interpreted alongside the content that is being preserved.

Objectives

  1. The policy establishes a commitment by the University to the long-term preservation of certain selected digital content in order to adhere to statutory obligations, protect institutional memory and to meet research needs.
  2. This commitment will be achieved by establishing procedures in support of this policy which guide and document activities, and through investment of resource into continuous development and improvement.
  3. Digital content which requires long term preservation is identified collaboratively by the creators of the content and the Information and Records Management Advisory Team, Research Data Management Team and Modern Records Centre (MRC) staff, depending on the type of content. Every effort is made to ensure that digital content is preserved in a reliable and authentic way according to documented workflows and procedures.
  4. Digital content will be preserved so that there is a base level of bit stream integrity, content is accessible and there is ongoing review of technology and upgrade and investment in systems.
  5. Where appropriate MRC will use or refer to external services for some activities, e.g. with web archiving for which we will principally refer to the UK Web archive for collecting and maintaining content. Research datasets will be stored in relevant subject specific data centres. University collections and data management policies will determine which activities it is appropriate to undertake in-house and which should be undertaken externally/elsewhere.

Acquisition

  1. The MRC will produce guidelines and procedures on preparing and managing digital content for transfer to the MRC (University Archives) for long-term preservation. Guidance on information and records management will be produced by the Information and Records Management Advisory team and this supports effective digital preservation by promoting good information management practices.
  2. The MRC will offer advice and guidance to external depositors and invest time and resource in understanding and advising on best practice and planning for any migration or emulation activities which may take place.
  3. MRC will create a manifest (file list) and checksums (unique numeric signature) for each deposit of digital content which will be retained with the deposit as part of its metadata. MRC will collect sufficient metadata to give the data context so that it can more easily be understood and rendered accessible in the future.
  4. Guidance will be provided by the Research Data Management Team to the wider University on preparation for transfer of research data sets to a repository or data centre which can enable datasets to be self-deposited into the University’s repository.

Appraisal

  1. Only a small proportion of the digital content which the University creates is identified in the University’s published Records Retention Schedule (RRS) as being required for preservation and it is neither desirable nor feasible to keep all digital content.
  2. Similar selection criteria are applied to externally deposited records which means the MRC is likely to make selections for long-term preservation both during the acquisition stage, in preparation for ingest and after ingest. All decisions are documented by the MRC and made according to established and defined practice.

Ingest

  1. Ingest is the process by which digital content is brought into a managed environment and the documentation of this process.
  2. There will be a tiered approach to this process in order to utilise resources in a way which gives consideration to environmental issues. A tiered approach means that different workflows (outlined in the processing guidelines) will be followed for different categories of digital material which will be assessed according to strict criteria.
  3. Any actions taken on content for preservation purposes either by machine or human will be recorded. MRC will ensure metadata is created and captured so that material is findable, understandable and can be demonstrated to be authentic.

Preservation Actions (Metadata, Bit Stream and Content Management)

  1. We will ensure that the metadata, which is required to support preservation, management and use of authentic digital content, is captured, created and maintained to appropriate standards. Metadata will be created according to widely accepted standards including Preservation Metadata Maintenance Activity (PREMIS), Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standards (METS), International Standard Archival Description (General) (ISAD(G)), Dublin Core.
  2. The University will aim for bitstream preservation of all its managed digital content. A bitstream is the data which forms the digital content represented in its binary form, while bitstream preservation is the process by which the MRC will seek to fix and maintain the underlying binary so that it is not altered or corrupted over time.
  3. The University will aim to preserve content by ensuring that it is available and accessible. This is achieved through monitoring preserved content and performing actions on them when their format looks to be in danger of obsolescence.

Accessibility

  1. The MRC will store multiple copies of digital content, check the integrity of content and monitor the technological obsolescence of file formats and software dependencies so that access to the content is optimised.

Exemptions

‘Exemption requests’ under this policy must be submitted to the CIDO or their designate. Exemptions to this policy may only be granted by the CIDO or their designate. Activities that have received prior approval by the Research Ethics Committee will be exempt, but the CIDO must be notified.

This policy may have an impact on users of assistive technology or assistive software due to their disability. These individual cases will be considered on a case by case basis.

Compliance Monitoring

Compliance to this policy will be monitored on an ongoing basis. The compliance focus will be on:

  • Breaches to this policy
  • Exemption requests and granting of exemptions

Compliance performance will be reported by Information Asset Owners (IAO) monthly to the University Information Management Committee.

A failure to comply with this policy will be deemed to be a disciplinary offence, and will be subject to the University Information Management Executive Committee escalation process (see link above) and may lead to proceedings being taken through the University Disciplinary Process.

It is University Policy that:

  • information security controls must be monitored to ensure they are adequate and effective

Not in use

Responsibilities
Data Protection Officer
dpo@warwick.ac.uk
The University of Warwick
University House
Coventry CV4 8UW