DCC Curation Lifecycle Model

Our Curation Lifecycle Model provides a graphical, high-level overview of the stages required for successful curation and preservation of data from initial conceptualisation or receipt through the iterative curation cycle. 

You can use our model to plan activities within your organisation or consortium to ensure that all of the necessary steps in the curation lifecycle are covered.

It is important to note that the model is an ideal. In reality, users of the model may enter at any stage of the lifecycle depending on their current area of need. For instance, a digital repository manager may engage with the model for this first time when considering curation from the point of ingest. The repository manger may then work backwards to refine the support they offer during the conceptualisation and creation processes to improve data management and longer-term curation.

The model enables granular functionality to be mapped against it: to define roles and responsibilities and build a framework of standards and technologies to implement. 

It can be used to help identify additional steps that may be required – or actions not required by certain situations or disciplines – and to ensure that processes and policies are adequately documented. 

Click on the model below to find out more about specific steps or to download the Curation Lifecycle Model.

** This publication is available in print and can be ordered from our online store **



Key elements of the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model



Data, any information in binary digital form, is at the centre of the Curation Lifecycle.

This includes:

Digital Objects: simple digital objects (discrete digital items such as text files, image files or sound files, along with their related identifiers and metadata) or complex digital objects (discrete digital objects made by combining a number of other digital objects, such as websites).

Databases: structured collections of records or data stored in a computer system.



Description and Representation Information
Assign administrative, descriptive, technical, structural and preservation metadata, using appropriate standards, to ensure adequate description and control over the long-term. Collect and assign representation information required to understand and render both the digital material and the associated metadata.

Preservation Planning
Plan for preservation throughout the curation lifecycle of digital material. This would include plans for management and administration of all curation lifecycle actions.

Community Watch and Participation
Maintain a watch on appropriate community activities, and participate in the development of shared standards, tools and suitable software. 

Curate and Preserve
Be aware of, and undertake management and administrative actions planned to promote curation and preservation throughout the curation lifecycle.


Conceive and plan the creation of data, including capture method and storage options.


Create or Receive
Create data including administrative, descriptive, structural and technical metadata. Preservation metadata may also be added at the time of creation.

Receive data, in accordance with documented collecting policies, from data creators, other archives, repositories or data centres, and if required assign appropriate metadata.


Appraise and Select
Evaluate data and select for long-term curation and preservation. Adhere to documented guidance, policies or legal requirements.


Transfer data to an archive, repository, data centre or other custodian. Adhere to documented guidance, policies or legal requirements.


Preservation Action
Undertake actions to ensure long-term preservation and retention of the authoritative nature of data. Preservation actions should ensure that data remains authentic, reliable and usable while maintaining its integrity. Actions include data cleaning, validation, assigning preservation metadata, assigning representation information and ensuring acceptable data structures or file formats.


Store the data in a secure manner adhering to relevant standards.


Access, Use and Reuse
Ensure that data is accessible to both designated users and reusers, on a day-to-day basis. This may be in the form of publicly available published information. Robust access controls and authentication procedures may be applicable.


Create new data from the original, for example:

by migration into a different format, or

by creating a subset, by selection or query, to create newly derived results, perhaps for publication



Dispose of data, which has not been selected for long-term curation and preservation in accordance with documented policies, guidance or legal requirements.

Typically data may be transferred to another archive, repository, data centre or other custodian. In some instances data is destroyed. The data's nature may, for legal reasons, necessitate secure destruction.

Return data which fails validation procedures for further appraisal and re-selection.

Migrate data to a different format. This may be done to accord with the storage environment or to ensure the data's immunity from hardware or software obsolescence. 



Still confused? See our DCC Curation Lifecycle Model FAQ for more information. Also, our Digital Curation 101 and 101 Lite courses introduce researchers and data custodians to the stages of the Curation Lifecycle Model.