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Exploring digital preservation requirements: A case study from the National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC)

Jaana Pinnick (Department of Informatics Directorate, British Geological Survey, Keyworth, UK)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




The aim of this paper was to explore digital preservation requirements within the wider National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC) organisational framework in preparation for developing a preservation policy and integrating associated preservation workflows throughout the existing research data management processes. This case study is based on an MSc dissertation research undertaken at Northumbria University.


This mixed methods case study used quantitative and qualitative data to explore the preservation requirements and triangulation to strengthen the design validity. Corporate and the wider scientific priorities were identified through literature and a stakeholder survey. Organisational preparedness was investigated through staff interviews.


Stakeholders expect data to be reliable, reusable and available in preferred formats. To ensure digital continuity, the creation of high-quality metadata is critical, and data depositors need data management training to achieve this. Recommendations include completing a risk assessment, creating a digital asset register and a technology watch to mitigate against risks.

Research limitations/implications

The main constraint in this study is the lack of generalisability of results. As the NGDC is a unique organisation, it may not be possible to generalise the organisational findings, although those relating to research data management may be transferrable.


This research examines the specific nature of geoscience data retention requirements and looks at existing NGDC procedures in terms of enhancing digital continuity, providing new knowledge on the preservation requirements for a number of national datasets.



The MSc research was supported by the British Geological Survey.


Pinnick, J. (2017), "Exploring digital preservation requirements: A case study from the National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC)", Records Management Journal, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 175-191.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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