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digital information

Press Release - 27 September 2005

Act now to preserve research data for the future, warns head of Digital Curation Centre

Digital information collected by research teams is being lost because contextual data is not being properly recorded, says the head of the UK organisation set up to provide advice on storing information.

Unless researchers act now to ensure the data they collect is properly recorded and classified, their work will be lost to future generations, says Chris Rusbridge, Director of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

He will be one of a number of speakers at the first international conference on digital curation taking place in Bath this week (29-30 September 2005) and organised by the DCC - a partnership between UKOLN, which is based at the University of Bath, the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils.

Mr Rusbridge warns that some research data has already been lost. “It is important to act now because losses to this data are occurring already. Curation begins at creation.

“This kind of information is valuable in many ways, including access to legally significant records, access to all kinds of cultural and societal information, and continued access to the expensive products of science and other research.

“Digital curation is important because without it digital information will be lost or become useless.”

The conference will cover a wide range of themes and issues, both practical and theoretical, surrounding the curation of digital research records. Digital curation is becoming increasingly important in areas ranging from cancer research information to the ARKive of natural history film footage.

Dr Fiona Reddington, a Scientific Programme Manager at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Informatics Initiative, says that the topic is becoming increasingly important for all members of the research community.

“Researchers are in danger of becoming buried by the avalanche of digital information they collect through their studies,” says Dr Reddington.

“Masses of information has emerged from cancer research in recent years and this presents a dilemma for researchers in the field.

“The opportunities for using this data to enhance the understanding of the disease and advance the delivery of novel treatments are greater than they have ever been.

But without the necessary tools to collate and analyse the information, we are also in danger of becoming lost in it."

Notes

UKOLN is a centre of expertise in digital information management based at the University of Bath. It provides advice and services to the library, information, education and cultural heritage communities.


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