Like others, I have been preserving my own research notes and materials for quite some time. I have kept them for my own purposes and I have never really considered making those preserved items available for others. Even with my completed Master’s research I was not overly concerned about digital preservation since I knew that my advisor, reader and university had all retained a print copy of my work for preservation purposes. In retrospect, that is pretty inadequate since it is likely that my work will remain preserved but is largely inaccessible to most people unless the university chooses to digitize it (which they have permission to do).

I currently have the habit of saving all of my important digital documents on an external hard drive, on usb sticks and by emailing them to myself. I am not particularly tech savvy, though I am trying to expand my knowledge in that area since it is VITAL. Because of my relative inexperience with technology, I need to really think about how best to preserve my research. For certain projects, I create digital copies of my handwritten notes since I like to use pen and paper to record certain information. That being said, for this research, it is likely that most of my notes will be digital since I am working with online communities in a variety of locations. My research will likely create notes, audio and transcripts of interviews, data from a survey, the survey itself, chat logs and the digital items themselves (applications made from open data).

Some of these digital items (such as the interview audio and transcriptions) would likely have to be destroyed after the research is finished, though perhaps it could be kept with the permission of all parties involved since the interviewees are not vulnerable members of society and the questions would likely not contain any sensitive information. That said, I would have to ensure that all of my research files are encrypted, and that all information that needed to be destroyed after the research is finished is completely cleared from my hard drive by wiping it. To try my best to ensure that my research is preserved for the future, I will store it in ways listed above and will continue to copy the data into newer formats and programs as they develop. So I will re-encode my information in new formats before the old formats become obsolete. I will also attempt to have the research exist in multiple formats, including (when possible) a print format.

As for professional associations that offer suggestions or guidelines for digital preservation, the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (connected to the Library of Congress) offers their standards and best practices on the subject. Furthermore, the NDSA provides a Personal Digital Archiving Day Kit.  There is also a program called Muse (Memories Using Email) that is run by Stanford University that offers, amongst other things, long term email archives. And hey, why not one more? The Digital Preservation Coalition has a Digital Preservation Handbook.

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2 Comments

by | November 22, 2013 · 5:59 pm

2 responses to “Digital Preservation

  1. Hey Jesse,

    Thanks for the resources.
    archives.org is another amazing site, which hosts video, audio, text from the past is a great practical example of information preservation. They are the ones behind The Wayback Machine which lets you look at webpages as they appeared on a specific date from the past.(Internet Archives, 2001)

    Internet Archive. (2001). Universal access to all knowledge, Retrieved November 29, 2013, from https://archive.org/

  2. jbake006

    Hey Hamid!

    Yeah, I’ve used archives.org before during different research. I’m glad you pointed it out though since it is such a great resource.

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