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What is the break down for common long-term preservation costs?

+3 votes

I'm wondering if any organizations have evidence on preservation cost records they are willing to share? I'm specifically looking to find out if David Rosenthal's rule of thumb "that in the past ingest has taken about one-half, preservation about one-third, and access about one-sixth of the total cost" (http://blog.dshr.org/2014/03/the-half-empty-archive.html) is one that has borne out in a variety of settings. 

asked Aug 21, 2014 by mgallinger (880 points)
Is there a better way to ask this question? I understand that discussing actual numbers can be a bit tricky. Is there a way to ask this that will make it more comfortable for people to answer?

1 Answer

+1 vote

The short answer is that this is a very tricky question to respond to if you need an answer backed by evidence! I'll try and explain why that is the case, and point to a site that may begin to provide some of that evidence that we need.

The 4C Project has been putting together the Curation Costs Exchange with the aim of gathering together costing data and providing analysis of that data that will help to inform others, and answer questions such as yours. This page provides some figures that don't quite match up with Rosenthal's numbers. Or do they? It's difficult to tell. What do you/Rosenthal mean by the cost of "preservation"? What is the difference between "ingest" and "pre-ingest"? Does "preservation" include storage? Does it include electricity to run the storage? In which country (as prices will vary). Over what period? Storage is likely to be relatively cheaper for the same volume over longer periods. Does it include capital costs of developing or installing necessary software, or just running it from day to day. When were the figures captured, as costs will change over time, particularly as we get better at doing digital preservation? And so on...

Making comparisons is very difficult, as without immense amounts of detail about the figures you've gathered it's difficult to know if you're comparing like with like. Unfortunately despite (way too) many different projects to calculate the costs of digital preservation, we still don't have a standard model for capturing and comparing costing data.

I believe the Curation Costs Exchange is still under development, and it would be great to know the details behind the numbers on the site. The site (at the time of writing this answer) is showing "Under construction" on the "Learn more about how your results are calculated" page. I understand that the Exchange has gathered a significant amount of source costing data together. So it perhaps has the potential to answer the big costing questions, if the detail on what has been costed and how this has been mapped into a standard form (from presumably many different sources) can be provided.

answered Nov 3, 2014 by prwheatley (310 points)