Digital Preservation and Astronomy: Lessons for funders and the funded

Gray, Norman

Astronomy looks after its data better than most disciplines, and it is no coincidence that the consensus standard for the archival preservation of all types of digital assets -- the OAIS Reference Model -- emerged originally from the space science community.

Although astronomy as a discipline is an exemplar of good practice, it is useful to highlight both what is different about astronomy (and indeed about Big Science in general), what could be improved, and what is exemplary, and in the process I will give a brief introduction to the framework of the OAIS model, and its useful conceptual vocabulary. I will illustrate this with a discussion of the spectrum of big-science data management practices from astronomy, through gravitational wave data, to particle physics.

I will also briefly describe the problem from the funders' point of view: how do funders balance the (scientists' temporary) need for proprietary data against the (public's) need for openness?; what are the costs?; and how prescriptive should funders be in requiring or designing formal data management plans?

This talk describes work at the University of Glasgow, funded by JISC, UK.

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