1.3 Why is data archiving important?
Archiving data is beneficial both for producers of data and the research community.
Benefits of data archiving for data producers:
- Trustworthy data archives store data on reliable media and ensure that it is not lost, will remain accessible for verification and reuse, and is preserved. (No risk for the data producer of losing valuable data by losing flash drives, accidentally deleting files, or not remembering a password to an old laptop)
- Data formats used during data production often quickly become outdated, which renders the data unreadable after some time. In data archives, data is regularly checked and updated to be in up-to-date and sustainable formats, ensuring data remains readable (see the section What is archived?).
- In archives, data are kept in a secure location and the media are protected against accidents, such as fire or flooding. Data archives ensure that the data will not be damaged.
- Data sets can be found and referenced easily in publications, especially when archives assign PIDs to them.
Benefits of data archiving for the research community
- Data archives make data and related metadata available to students, researchers and other people outside the research project from which the data stems. These users can thus benefit from the data collected by other researchers and reuse them for their research or teaching purposes.
- Allowing researchers to reuse data collected by other researchers to answer novel research questions saves a lot of time and money for the research community as a whole.
- Interaction and reuse of data can lead to other knowledge exchange and possible new collaborations in the future, bringing together different communities.
Quality of data in data archives
Although archives cannot totally guarantee the scientific quality of data itself, they provide essential information about the data so that later users can judge for themselves whether the data is of good quality. The necessary information for reuse is provided by metadata that, for example, contains a description of the methodology used for data collection.
Access to data
Data archives make research data available for reuse as much as possible under the FAIR principles (CESSDA Training Team 2017-2022; Deutz, Daniella Bayle et al. 2020; Wilkinson et al. 2016). You can learn more about fairness of data in Chapter 5 of this guide [in progress]. Some data can be accessed only under strict conditions, for example when the data contains personal information (see the section What is archived?). Therefore, archives typically have various data access categories that data producers who deposit their data can choose (see the section How does an archive make data available?)”.
Find out more about your archive
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to learn more about your own archive:
- Can you think of other benefits that your archive provides for its users by archiving data?
- How does your archive ensure quality and access to data?
- What kind of support does your archive offer to data procuders and users about data archiving and its benefits?