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ICPSR to Participate in Project to Certify Digital Archives

ICPSR will be taking part in the RLG-NARA Digital Repository Certification project to identify the criteria repositories must meet for reliably storing, migrating, and providing access to digital collections.ICPSR has been selected to serve as a "test subject" in the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) project to develop an audit checklist for certification of trusted digital repositories. Funded by the Mellon Foundation, this project builds on the work of a Task Force consisting of members from the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and the U.S. National Archives and Research Administration (NARA). The Task Force is charged with developing criteria to identify digital repositories capable of reliably storing, migrating, and providing longterm access to digital collections.

RLG has released a draft of the "Audit Checklist for the Certification of Trusted Digital Repositories," which is available at This represents the fifth generation of the RLG-NARA group’s work and provides best, current practice and thought about the organizational and technical infrastructure required for a digital repository to be considered trustworthy and capable of certification.

Leveraging the RLG-NARA audit tool, the CRL project will test audit criteria and metrics with three test subjects, including:

  • Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
  • Koninklijke Bibliotheek National Library of the Netherlands, which maintains the digital archive for Elsevier Science Direct Journals
  • Portico, an archive for electronic journals incubated within Ithaka Harbors, Inc.

Stanford's LOCKSS system will also participate in this effort, which runs through October 2006.

Comments on the draft are welcomed and are due before mid-January 2006 to Robin Dale, the RLG-NARA Task Force Co-chair and project manager: (+1-650-691-2238).

Contributed by Ann Green


Thanks for the article....

Thanks for the article....





When the Digital Content

When the Digital Content Group (DCG) at UW-Madison was testing D-Space as a possible digital repository tool in the fall of 2003, I provided one of our social science datasets for them to see how D-Space handles it. At that time DCG had a focus on digitized special collections. In addition, the staff at DCG did not know all the components in a dataset. They concluded that D-Space can handle the study level metadata and did not go any further to examine the data files, codebook file and dictionary file in D-Space. After observing the development of our Digital Repository project I am not sure that DPLS’s social science datasets should be included in our institutional digital repository. I am afraid that our datasets might be lost in a huge digital community like UW-Madison. The DCG staff won’t be able to provide users of social science datasets with the level of services we currently offer. They don’t have the expertise to preserve social science datasets. I feel that our collections receive better care in our own shop. However, papers that UW-Madison researchers write based on the analysis of social science datasets are very good candidates for the institutionary digital repository. Not all digital contents are created equally. To store them all in one digital space does not guarantee they can be located and used efficiently. I am glad to see that ICPSR is participating in the certification of digital repositories project. ICPSR will watch out for the important issues in handling social science datasets in the digital repository environments. Members at IASSIST community should send in our comments on the RLG-NARA checklist for the Certification of Trusted Digital Repositories. Because we all have our own unique setups, we need to evaluate the checklist and see if it makes sense in our settings.

I find these DPC technology

I find these DPC technology watch publications to be interesting. The latest DPC Technology Watch report is now available on the DPC website.
  • Preservation Metadata (PDF 209KB)
    Technology Watch Report 05-01
    Preservation Metadata by Brian Lavoie and Richard Gartner "The report, authored by Brian Lavoie and Richard Gartner, provides a comprehensive but highly readable update on developments in preservation metadata and METS. Related powerpoint slides are available at "
  • Institutional Repositories (PDF 317KB)
    Technology Watch Report 04-02
    Institutional Repositories in the context of Digital Preservation by: Paul Wheatley, University of Leeds, March 2004 This report points out the community basis for institutional repositories. This could be one of the dimensions that help articulate the differences between institutional repositories and data archives, data libraries, data collections. Another dimension is the interpretation of responsibility, i.e. who are the primary users/audiences/service points. Another dimension could be the idea of certification, as we're discussing in this thread. Quote from the Technical Watch:
    "The term institutional repository implies a community based service although this is interpreed by repository developers in different ways. Some embody a cross-subject, cross-department service which requires flexibility to meet the requirements of many different types of users. Some focus more specifically on a particular subject and possibly type of material to be archived, while still delivering an institution-wide service."
I think it is very interesting to apply the IR and DR language to what social science data archives have been doing for decades. It helps stimulate new perspectives and I think points out areas for research and development within our domain specific projects and organizations. I have an extensive and current bibliography on digital repositories that I can share but I think it is too long for the blog....

Those interested in the

Those interested in the subject of institutional repositories may also be interested in two articles appearing in the September 2005 issue of D-Lib Magazine ( The articles are:
Academic Institutional Repositories: Deployment Status in 13 Nations as of Mid 2005 by Gerard van Westrienen, SURF Foundation and Clifford A. Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information Institutional Repository Deployment in the United States as of Early 2005 by Clifford A. Lynch and Joan K. Lippincott, Coalition for Networked Information
Each of the articles discuss recent surveys of institutions of higher education internationally. I was struck by the data on the United States. Among the institutions surveyed, only four universities say they have institutional repositories of data sets, though about 26 said they intended to establish such repositories. Quoting from the Lynch and Lippincott article, "a university-based institutional repository is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution." (Lynch, 2003) From my vantage point at UCLA I think of what we do in the Data Archive as falling into this definition, and there are many institutions involved in the same level of work with the same level of expertise. So, I was struck that there were so few institutions reported on in the survey discussed in these two articles. On the other hand, the criteria proposed in the digital archive certification project would exclude many of these same facilities. This is not to suggest that the criteria are misplaced; indeed, the question I would pose at this point, is what can we members of IASSIST and ICPSR do to assist ICPSR in the certification project?

IASSIST member Ronald Jantz

IASSIST member Ronald Jantz and Michael J. Giarlo published an article discussing what it means to be a trusted digital repository. The URL for the article is: Although the article doesn't specifically address data archives and numeric data collections, the discussion does include information related to the challenges of trust, preservation, and documentation in quantitative and qualitative data archives. For example, they talk about tracking the transformation of original print or non-digital objects; we see parallel challenges in tracking derivatives of data sets and the problems with certifying the 'original.'

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