Glossary

To help you get to grips with some of the common terminology used, the DCC has compiled a handy digital curation glossary. 

Take a moment to read through any unfamiliar terms below before navigating our digital library of resources to find out all about digital curation and data preservation. 

Browse the glossary by clicking on a letter.

 

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A

Access

The OAIS entity that contains the services and functions which make the archival information holdings and related services visible to Consumers.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Access Aid

A software program or document that allow Consumers to locate, analyse, and order Archival Information Packages (AIPs) of interest.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Access Collection

A collection of Archival Information Packages (AIPs) that is defined by a Collection Description but for which there is no Packaging Information for the collection in Archival Storage.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Access Method

A method for retrieving an Archival Information Package (AIP) based on its name or identifier, which is available to authorized users.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Access Software

A type of software that presents part of or all of the information content of an Information Object in forms understandable to humans or systems.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Adhoc Order

A request that is generated by a Consumer for information the OAIS has indicated is currently available.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Administration

The OAIS entity that contains the services and functions needed to control the operation of the other OAIS functional entities on a day-to-day basis.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Archival Information Collection (AIC)

An Archival Information Package whose Content Information is an aggregation of other Archival Information Packages.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Archival Information Package (AIP)

An Information Package, consisting of the Content Information and the associated Preservation Description Information (PDI), which is preserved within an OAIS.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Archival Information Unit (AIU)

An Archival Information Package whose Content Information is not further broken down into other Content Information components, each of which has its own complete Preservation Description Information. It can be viewed as an 'atomic' AIP. An example of an AIU would be a table of numbers representing temperatures in a certain region with all the associated documentation describing how and where the temperatures were measured, what instruments were used to make the measurements, who made the measurements, why they were made, what processing has been performed on the measurements and who has had custody of these measurements since they were first created, how the measurements relate to other information, how the measurements can be uniquely referenced by others, etc.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Archival Storage

The OAIS entity that contains the services and functions used for the storage and retrieval of Archival Information Packages.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Archive

An organization that intends to preserve information for access and use by a Designated Community.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Associated Description

The information describing the content of an Information Package from the point of view of a particular Access Aid.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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B

Born Digital

Digital files that were created in digital form; those that were not derived as a surrogate from physical form.
Source: Anna Fariello

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C

Client

An application which exchanges information with another application (see also Consumer).
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Collection Description

A type of Package Description that is specialized to provide information about an Archival Information Collection for use by Access Aids.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Common Services

The supporting services such as inter-process communication, name services, temporary storage allocation, exception handling, security, and directory services necessary to support the OAIS.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Consumer

The role played by those persons, or client systems, who interact with OAIS services to find preserved information of interest and to access that information in detail. This can include other OAISs, as well as internal OAIS persons or systems.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Content Data Object

The Data Object, that together with associated Representation Information, is the original target of preservation.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Content Information

The set of information that is the original target of preservation. It is an Information Object comprised of its Content Data Object and its Representation Information. An example of Content Information could be a single table of numbers representing, and understandable as, temperatures, but excluding the documentation that would explain its history and origin, how it relates to other observations, etc.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Context Information

The information that documents the relationships of the Content Information to its environment. This includes why the Content Information was created and how it relates to other Content Information objects.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Co-operating Archives

Those archives that have Designated Communities with related interests. They may order and ingest data from each other. At a minimum, Co-operating Archives must agree to support at least one common Submission Information Package (SIP) and Dissemination Information Package (DIP) for inter-archive requests.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Curation Lifecycle Model

A curation lifecycle model documents the relationships between all the stages in the existence of digital information, to enable active management of the resource over time thus maintaining accessibility and usability.
Source: Pennock, M: "Digital Curation: A Life-Cycle Approach to Managing and Digital Curation: A Life-Cycle Approach to Managing and Preserving Usable Digital Information"
More Information [PDF, 153KB]

Curated Databases

The term "curated database" tends to mean a manually constructed database that links literature to data, curated by experts who provide authority (e.g. see the Wikipedia definition of Biocurator). The earliest mention of the term "curated database" is in the abstract (and only in the abstract) of Larsen et al (1993).
Source: Digital Curation Blog
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D

Data

A reinterpretable representation of information in a formalized manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing. Examples of data include a sequence of bits, a table of numbers, the characters on a page, the recording of sounds made by a person speaking, or a moon rock specimen.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Data Dictionary

A formal repository of terms used to describe data.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Data Dissemination Session

A delivered set of media or a single telecommunications session that provides data to a Consumer. The Data Dissemination Session format/contents is based on a data model negotiated between the OAIS and the Consumer in the Request Agreement. This data model identifies the logical constructs used by the OAIS and how they are represented on each media delivery or in the telecommunication session.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Data Management

The OAIS entity that contains the services and functions for populating, maintaining, and accessing a wide variety of information. Some examples of this information are catalogs and inventories on what may be retrieved from Archival Storage, processing algorithms that may be run on retrieved data, Consumer access statistics, Consumer billing, Event Based Orders, security controls, and OAIS schedules, policies, and procedures.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Data Management Data

The data created and stored in Data Management persistent storage that refer to operation of an archive. Some examples of this data are accounting data for Consumer billing and authorization, policy data, Event Based Order (subscription) data for repeating requests, preservation process history data, and statistical data for generating reports to archive management.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Data Object

Either a Physical Object or a Digital Object.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Data Submission Session

A delivered set of media or a single telecommunications session that provides Data to an OAIS. The Data Submission Session format/contents is based on a data model negotiated between the OAIS and the Producer in the Submission Agreement. This data model identifies the logical constructs used by the Producer and how they are represented on each media delivery or in the telecommunication session.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Derived AIP

An AIP generated by extracting or aggregating information from one or more source AIPs.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Descriptive Information

The set of information, consisting primarily of Package Descriptions, which is provided to Data Management to support the finding, ordering, and retrieving of OAIS information holdings by Consumers.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Designated Community

An identified group of potential Consumers who should be able to understand a particular set of information. The Designated Community may be composed of multiple user communities.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Digital Migration

The transfer of digital information, while intending to preserve it, within the OAIS. It is distinguished from transfers in general by three attributes:

  • a focus on the preservation of the full information content;
  • a perspective that the new archival implementation of the information is a replacement for the old; and
  • an understanding that full control and responsibility over all aspects of the transfer resides with the OAIS.


Source: OAIS Reference Model

Digital Object

An object composed of a set of bit sequences.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Dissemination Information Package (DIP)

The Information Package, derived from one or more AIPs, received by the Consumer in response to a request to the OAIS.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

DIFFUSE

DIFFUSE (Dissemination of InFormal and Formal Useful Specifications and Experiences) was a project which ran from 1 February 2000 until 31 January 2003. It was set up to provide neutral reporting on developments relating to standards and specifications in support of Key Action II (New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce) and Key Action III (Multimedia Content and Tools) of the European Commission's IST programme.

The project outputs were primarily targeted at potential and actual IST participants. Whilst the emphasis of the project was focused on the needs of the Research and Technologies Development (RTD) communities, it also had a broader perspective of serving the information requirements of industry and public sector in general.

The DIFFUSE service was used to demonstrate many of the latest techniques in web site management. For example, it conformed to the guidelines issued by the Web Accessibility Initiative, it recorded Dublin Core metadata in all its files, it includes P3P-compliant privacy statements and it demonstrated the role of ISO/IEC 13250 Topic Maps in data navigation.

The DIFFUSE Project's output is now being repurposed and updated by the Digital Curation Centre as the DCC DIFFUSE Standards Registry.

DCC DIFFUSE Standards Registry

The DCC DIFFUSE Standards Registry aims to provide a single point of access to a range of standards and specifications related to the curation and preservation of access to digital material. It provides up-to-date information about current and emerging standards and specifications, as well as information about those which have been superseded or which are no longer maintained, but may still be in use. DCC DIFFUSE builds on the achievements of the DIFFUSE Project which was originally funded under the European Commission's Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme and ran from 1 February 2000 until 31 January 2003.
Source: DCC DIFFUSE
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E

Edition

An attribute of an AIP whose information content has been increased or improved from a source AIP and is therefore a candidate to replace the source AIP.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Event Based Order

A request that is generated by a Consumer for information that is to be delivered periodically on the basis of some event or events.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Emulation

A means of overcoming technical obsolescence of hardware and software by developing techniques for imitating obsolete systems on future generations of computers.
Source: Beagrie, Neil and Jones, Maggie, 2001, Preservation Management of Digital Materials: A Handbook, (The British Library: London). Also available online: http://www.dpconline.org/graphics/handbook/
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e-Science

A term used to describe computationally intensive science that is carried out in highly distributed network environments, or science that uses immense data sets that require grid computing; the term sometimes includes technologies that enable distributed collaboration, such as the Access Grid. The term was created by John Taylor, the Director General of the United Kingdom's Office of Science and Technology in 1999 and was used to describe a large funding initiative starting in November 2000.
Source: Wikipedia
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F

Federated Archives

A group of archives that has agreed to provide access to their holdings via one or more common finding aids.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Finding Aid

A type of Access Aid that allows a user to search for and identify Archival Information Packages of interest.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Fixity Information

The information which documents the authentication mechanisms and provides authentication keys to ensure that the Content Information object has not been altered in an undocumented manner. An example is a Cyclical Redundancy Check (CRC) code for a file.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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G

Global Community

An extended Consumer community, in the context of Federated Archives, that accesses the holdings of several archives via one or more common Finding Aids.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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H

No entries for this letter

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I

Independently Understandable

A characteristic of information that has sufficient documentation to allow the information to be understood and used by the Designated Community without having to resort to special resources not widely available, including named individuals.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Information

Any type of knowledge that can be exchanged. In an exchange, it is represented by data. An example is a string of bits (the data) accompanied by a description of how to interpret a string of bits as numbers representing temperature observations measured in degrees Celsius (the representation information).
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Information Object

A Data Object together with its Representation Information.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Information Package

The Content Information and associated Preservation Description Information which is needed to aid in the preservation of the Content Information. The Information Package has associated Packaging Information used to delimit and identify the Content Information and Preservation Description Information.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Ingest

The OAIS entity that contains the services and functions that accept Submission Information Packages from Producers, prepares Archival Information Packages for storage, and ensures that Archival Information Packages and their supporting Descriptive Information become established within the OAIS.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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J

No entries for this letter

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K

Knowledge Base

A set of information, incorporated by a person or system, that allows that person or system to understand received information.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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L

Local Community

The original Designated Community, in the context of Federated Archives, served by an archive.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Long Term

A period of time long enough for there to be concern about the impacts of changing technologies, including support for new media and data formats, and of a changing user community, on the information being held in a repository. This period extends into the indefinite future.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Long Term Preservation

The act of maintaining information, in a correct and Independently Understandable form, over the Long Term.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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M

Management

The role played by those who set overall OAIS policy as one component in a broader policy domain.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Member Description

An Associated Description that describes a member of a collection.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Metadata

Data about other data.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Migration

A means of overcoming technical obsolescence by transferring digital resources from one hardware/software generation to the next. The purpose of migration is to preserve the intellectual content of digital objects and to retain the ability for clients to retrieve, display, and otherwise use them in the face of constantly changing technology.
Source: Beagrie, Neil and Jones, Maggie, 2001, Preservation Management of Digital Materials: A Handbook, (The British Library: London). Also available online: http://www.dpconline.org/graphics/handbook/
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N

NAAN

Name Assigning Authority Number in the ARK system. The DCC has been assigned number 64269.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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O

Open Archival Information System (OAIS)

An archive, consisting of an organization of people and systems, that has accepted the responsibility to preserve information and make it available for a Designated Community. It meets a set of responsibilities, as defined in 3.1, that allows an OAIS archive to be distinguished from other uses of the term 'archive'. The term 'Open' in OAIS is used to imply that this Recommendation and future related Recommendations and standards are developed in open forums, and it does not imply that access to the archive is unrestricted.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Order Agreement

An agreement between the archive and the Consumer in which the physical details of the delivery, such as media type and format of Data, are specified.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Ordering Aid

An application that assists the Consumer in discovering the cost of, and in ordering, AIPs of interest.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Overview Description

A specialization of the Collection Description that describes the collection as a whole.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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P

Package Description

The information intended for use by Access Aids.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Packaging Information

The information that is used to bind and identify the components of an Information Package. For example, it may be the ISO 9660 volume and directory information used on a CD-ROM to provide the content of several files containing Content Information and Preservation Description Information.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Physical Object

An object (such as a moon rock, bio-specimen, microscope slide) with physically observable properties that represent information that is considered suitable for being adequately documented for preservation, distribution, and independent usage.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Preservation Description Information (PDI)

The information which is necessary for adequate preservation of the Content Information and which can be categorized as Provenance, Reference, Fixity, and Context information.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Producer

The role played by those persons, or client systems, who provide the information to be preserved. This can include other OAISs or internal OAIS persons or systems.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Provenance Information

The information that documents the history of the Content Information. This information tells the origin or source of the Content Information, any changes that may have taken place since it was originated, and who has had custody of it since it was originated. Examples of Provenance Information are the principal investigator who recorded the data, and the information concerning its storage, handling, and migration.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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Q

No entries for this letter

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R

Reference Information

The information that identifies, and if necessary describes, one or more mechanisms used to provide assigned identifiers for the Content Information. It also provides identifiers that allow outside systems to refer, unambiguously, to a particular Content Information. An example of Reference Information is an ISBN.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Reference Model

A framework for understanding significant relationships among the entities of some environment, and for the development of consistent standards or specifications supporting that environment. A reference model is based on a small number of unifying concepts and may be used as a basis for education and explaining standards to a non-specialist.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Refreshment

A Digital Migration where the effect is to replace a media instance with a copy that is sufficiently exact that all Archival Storage hardware and software continues to run as before.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Repackaging

A Digital Migration in which there is an alteration in the Packaging Information of the AIP.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Replication

A Digital Migration where there is no change to the Packaging Information, the Content Information, and the PDI. The bits used to represent these Information Objects are preserved in the transfer to the same or new media instance.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Representation Information

The information that maps a Data Object into more meaningful concepts. An example is the ASCII definition that describes how a sequence of bits (i.e., a Data Object) is mapped into a symbol.

In order to keep things manageable, Representation Information can be factored in distinct types, such as Structure, Semantics and Other. The latter can include Software and Standards, among other things. This normalisation allows one, for example, to describe two sets of information which are identical, but which are held in different structures (formats), by combining the same Semantic description with different Structure descriptions.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Representation Network

The set of Representation Information that fully describes the meaning of a Data Object. Representation Information in digital forms needs additional Representation Information so its digital forms can be understood over the Long Term. Representation Rendering Software: A type of software that displays Representation Information of an Information Object in forms understandable to humans.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Result Set

The set of descriptive records for those AIPs in an OAIS which match the criteria stated in a Consumer query, or other results from a search on Data Management.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Retrieval Aid

An application that allows authorized users to retrieve the Content Information and PDI described by the Package Description.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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S

Search Session

A session initiated by the Consumer with the archive during which the Consumer will use the archive Finding Aids to identify and investigate potential holdings of interest.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Structure Information

The information that imparts meaning about how other information is organized. For example, it maps bit streams to common computer types such as characters, numbers, and pixels and aggregations of those types such as character strings and arrays.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Submission Agreement

The agreement reached between an OAIS and the Producer that specifies a data model for the Data Submission Session. This data model identifies format/contents and the logical constructs used by the Producer and how they are represented on each media delivery or in a telecommunication session.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Submission Information Package (SIP)

An Information Package that is delivered by the Producer to the OAIS for use in the construction of one or more AIPs.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

Stakeholder

An individual or group who is (or might be) affected by the endeavours of the DCC and can influence it but who are not directly involved with doing the work.

Standards Framework

A set of standards which can be used together to achieve effective implementation of all stages of the Digital Curation Lifecycle. A standards framework will ideally support interoperability, maximise accessibility, avoid vendor lock-in, provide architectural integrity and help to ensure long-term preservation.
Source: Kelly et al: "A Contextual Framework For Standards"
More Information [external PDF, 219KB]

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T

Transformation

A Digital Migration in which there is an alteration to the Content Information or PDI of an Archival Information Package. For example, changing ASCII codes to UNICODE in a text document being preserved is a Transformation.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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U

Unit Description

A type of Package Description that is specialized to provide information about an Archival Information Unit for use by Access Aids.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

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V

Version

An attribute of an AIP whose information content has undergone a transformation on a source AIP and is a candidate to replace the source AIP.
Source: OAIS Reference Model

W

No entries for this letter

X

No entries for this letter

Y

No entries for this letter

Z

No entries for this letter



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