Preservation Definitions

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Data Archiving: Formally preserving data and information and making it available for an identified but potentially large and changing group of data consumers or users (Derived from the ISO standard Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model (CCSDS, 2002)). This definition applies to the archiving of any type of data or information whether it is a physical sample, a medieval manuscript, a photograph, or a digital data file.

Digital Preservation: “The series of actions and interventions required to ensure continued and reliable access to authentic digital objects for as long as they are deemed to be of value. This encompasses not just technical activities, but also all of the strategic and organisational considerations that relate to the survival and management of digital material.” Defined by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) of the United Kingdom (Pennock, 2006, 1).

Digital Curation: “Maintaining and adding value to a trusted body of digital information for current and future use; specifically, the active management and appraisal of data over the life cycle of scholarly and scientific materials.” Defined by the DCC (

Data Management: “Data Resource Management is the development and execution of architectures, policies, practices and procedures that properly manage the full data life cycle needs of an enterprise.” Defined by the Data Management Association, International (

Data Stewardship: “All activities that preserve and improve the information content, accessibility, and usability of data and metadata. These activities include maintaining a scal¬able and reliable infrastructure to support long-term access and preservation, preserving data access and archive integrity during media migration and software evolution, providing effective data support services and tools for users, and enhancing data and metadata by adding information that is established throughout the data life cycle.” As defined by the National Research Council Committee on Archiving and Accessing Environmental and Geospatial Data at NOAA (NRC, 2007, 41).

Provenance and Context: See the Interagency Data Stewardship/LifeCycle Workshop Report