The Internet has made it exceptionally easy for individuals to share information. This has increased the need for digital curation services in various learning and research institutions. Many institutions are using digital curation to make information and data available to people who need to use them. Digital libraries collect, store, preserve, and manage online content so that it remains available to users for as long as they would like.
Digital curation is the act of maintaining and promoting the value of digital information for current and future use throughout the life cycle of the information. The importance of the life cycle approach comes from the fact that digital materials are fragile and prone to change due to technological advances. If materials are properly curated, their integrity and originality are maintained and they become a reliable source of information. Activities that occur during each stage of the information life cycle determine how the digital information will be preserved and managed. The information life cycle approach helps to ensure continuity of service. This helps to maximize the investment made during creating and collection of data while supporting the verification of the resources.
It is important to understand that although digital curation is recommended for information preservation, it may not always be possible. Some cultural heritage firms prefer to have the management and hosting of digital resources to be done by external parties. In such a case, exercising control becomes difficult to achieve. This is a good example of how curation roles are divided among stakeholders especially during ownership transfer. Effective communication between the stakeholders is required for digital curation to be successful.
Each year, significant amounts of money is spent on research. However, not all research projects achieve their goals. Digital curation can help researchers to achieve their research goals and help keep important research data secure for future and current use. Another way to increase the value of digital curation is by learning to preserve and share digital materials so that they can be effectively reused. This increases the impact of the research and gives institutions the confidence to fund research projects.
Why Digital Data Needs to Be Preserved?
Preserving digital data is the objective of all research projects. Research data is unique and irreplaceable when it becomes lost or destroyed. A research project is considered successful if it has acquired verifiable data that can be used as reference. Most institutions prefer to have their research data retained and managed even years after the research is over. When planning a research project, it is important to establish systems that will ensure data preservation and protection.
Digital curation does not only help institutions to preserve data, but it also enhances data sharing across institutions. Institutions should use their data preservation programs to ensure that the resources and time spent gathering the data does not go to waste. Digital records risk becoming obsolete without proper management and preservation. Each member of a research project has the responsibility of ensuring data integrity and preservation.
The Digital Curation Lifecycle
Because data preservation and digital curation are continuous processes, they require adequate investment of resources and time. It is important to understand the systems and steps that need to be taken to ensure data preservation and curation in the entire data lifecycle. The first step of digital curation lifecycle is conceptualizing. In this step, you draft and plan the creation of digital data, which includes how to capture and store the data. Next step is creation, where you develop digital objects and classify data according to its administrative, technical, and structural importance.
Accessing and usage is the third step of the digital curation life cycle. This step helps to ensure that target users can access the data whenever they need to. Some data can be made available to the public while some may only be accessed by authorized individuals or entities. The next step; appraisal and selection helps to ensure the evaluation and selection of data for long-term preservation and curation. It is important to stick to documents guidelines as well as legal and policy requirements when preserving and storing data. Disposing is an important stage of the digital curation process because it allows you to get rid of information that does not require curation and preservation. In the case of documented guidelines, legal and policy requirements can be kept in a secure place or added to the data.
Ingestion occurs during the transfer of the objects to a data center, archive, or trusted digital repository. Various steps need to be taken to make sure the retention and preservation of the digital data is properly done. Re-appraisal helps to ensure that the digital data that was not validated is returned for another round of selection and appraisal. The validated data is then securely stored and a procedure for accessing and reusing the data is implemented. The final step is known as transformation, which involves the creation of new data from the original data.
How Digital Curation Can Help Researchers
Many research-funding institutions require researchers to take an active role in digital or data curation. The information held in digital libraries varies and may be available in form of simple documents and images or web links and audio format. The data can be transformed into digital format from original analogue sources. During the digital curation life cycle, the collected data and the metadata need to be managed well. This may not be a simple task because it requires the consideration of cultural, administrative, financial, and legal factors. This also means that it may not be possible to preserve some cultural data or information. This issue can be addressed by establishing better training, funding, managerial support, and technical storage infrastructure.
Curation is n ongoing process that may face various challenges. One of the biggest challenges in digital curation is obtaining funding for data preservation. In addition, many institutions do not realize the benefits of preserving and maintaining digital data. This requires organizations that deal with digital curation to explore revenue generation options. As expected, the provision and copying of information online should comply with state legal requirements and the Data Protection Act. In addition, institutions that deal with digital curation should look into ways of ensuring legal compliance, availability of tools required in data collection, and the acquisition and preservation of digital data. Institutions also need to find appropriate storage systems for the metadata and address the possible threat of technology obsolescence.
Understanding the digital curation life cycle will help researchers to plan adequately, which can help to mitigate the risks associated with digital curation. Proactive approaches for digital curation are often more effective than reactive approaches, despite the fact that both elements play an important role in the digital curation process. It is important to break down each stage of the digital curation process to identify challenges and deal with them appropriately. This helps to ensure that researchers find solutions to challenges in each stage of the process so that they do not recur. Preservation is not necessarily a challenge that might need attention in the beginning because of the availability of resources and the initial steps involved before preservation occurs.
Lack of funding is a significant challenge that many people face during the digital curation life cycle. This can be addressed by drafting policies that help support the digital curation process and secure funding. By employing the life cycle approach, you are able to plan and support digital curation and preservation. Check other externally produced digital resources and their heritage collections first before you start gathering data. In addition, identify possible legal limits that affect the access or management of data during the data collection phase.
It is important to ensure that the information gathered during the collection and selection stage is valid and that there are adequate resources for these activities. Although, digital data resources help to complement physical data, they are not considered replacements for physical data sources. Once you have acquired the digital data you need, make sure that it is stored in a safe environment. To avoid incurring extra costs, establish preservation programs and ensure that you have access to the original resources. Find out what other digital curation programs have used to identify the digital curation strategies that work before you start curation. Determine the requirements that users must meet before accessing your data and implement an information access approach that works well for you.
Digital curation is an information preservation strategy that will help future generations gain access to current information. This procedure faces many challenges and requires commitment by all individuals and entities taking part in the process to ensure proper data collection, preservation, and maintenance. One of the most important requirements between stakeholders of the digital curation process is constant and effective communication. The challenges faced during the digital curation process vary. This is why individuals and entities involved in digital curation often share their experiences with each other to identify the challenges that they may face in their digital curation exercises and come up with possible solutions.