What is digital curation?

Digital curation involves maintaining, preserving and adding value to digital research data throughout its lifecycle.

The active management of research data reduces threats to their long-term research value and mitigates the risk of digital obsolescence. Meanwhile, curated data in trusted digital repositories may be shared among the wider UK research community.

As well as reducing duplication of effort in research data creation, curation enhances the long-term value of existing data by making it available for further high quality research.

The digital curation lifecycle
Digital curation and data preservation are ongoing processes, requiring considerable thought and the investment of adequate time and resources. You must be aware of, and undertake, actions to promote curation and preservation throughout the data lifecycle.

The digital curation lifecycle comprises the following steps:

Conceptualise: conceive and plan the creation of digital objects, including data capture methods and storage options.

Create: produce digital objects and assign administrative, descriptive, structural and technical archival metadata.

Access and use: ensure that designated users can easily access digital objects on a day-to-day basis. Some digital objects may be publicly available, whilst others may be password protected. 

Appraise and select: evaluate digital objects and select those requiring long-term curation and preservation. Adhere to documented guidance, policies and legal requirements.

Dispose: rid systems of digital objects not selected for long-term curation and preservation. Documented guidance, policies and legal requirements may require the secure destruction of these objects.

Ingest: transfer digital objects to an archive, trusted digital repository, data centre or similar, again adhering to documented guidance, policies and legal requirements.

Preservation action: undertake actions to ensure the long-term preservation and retention of the authoritative nature of digital objects. 

Reappraise: return digital objects that fail validation procedures for further appraisal and reselection. 

Store: keep the data in a secure manner as outlined by relevant standards. 

Access and reuse: ensure that data are accessible to designated users for first time use and reuse. Some material may be publicly available, whilst other data may be password protected. 

Transform: create new digital objects from the original, for example, by migration into a different form.