2.1 Data Collection and Data Acquisition Policies

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Archives vary widely in how they receive data. For some, where data producers are encouraged or required to deposit, the problem may be too much data. More typically, repositories face challenges of finding, acquiring, and ingesting the “right” data. 

But what makes data “right” for a given archive? The definition of the criteria for the right data is done by a Collection Development Policy or an Acquisition Policy. Such Policies describe the selection and appraisal criteria that an archive applies when assessing whether to accept data into its collection. 

Typical criteria might include:

  • Purpose: Research, teaching, replication.
  • Level of curation – short or long term.
  • Alignment with other internal and external policies, e.g., research priorities of funders.
  • Flexibility to deal with exceptions, such as data a high risk of loss.

In addition to selection criteria, practical information such as the procedure for acquisition should also be included.

Finally, a Policy might include some discussion of methods, such as how the archive might address technological changes (e.g., data via APIs) or shifting strategic objectives (becoming a center of expertise in novel data, e.g., social media).

Relevant sections from Chapter 1

1.4 What is data acquisition?

Links to examples

Archival Acquisition Policy DARIS. FORS. Retrieved from: https://forscenter.ch/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/collections-policy.pdf

Data acquisition policy – Policies. FORS. Retrieved from: https://forscenter.ch/about-fors/policies/

Data acquisition policy. GESIS Leibniz institute for the Social Sciences. Retrieved from: www.gesis.org/fileadmin/2013-07-08_Was_wir_sammeln.pdf (German; English version available here).

Collection Development Policy. ISSDA. Retrieved from: https://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/ISSDA_Collection_Development_Policy_V1.pdf

Collections Development Policy. UKDS. Retrieved from: https://ukdataservice.ac.uk/media/398725/cd227-collectionsdevelopmentpolicy.pdf

File Format Policy. ISSDA. Retrieved from: https://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/ISSDA_Format_Policy_V2.pdf

OpenAIRE Content Acquisition Policies, Version: 1.0 Release date: 5th of October, 2018. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1446408 

What to consider when adapting a policy

An excellent source here is a paper that describes the experiences of FSD and ADP.  Although the paper is from 2006, it remains highly relevant to any archive going through a similar process (Laaksonen, Borg, and Stebe 2007).

“Our paper discusses FSD’s and ADP’s data acquisition policies in relation to their general archival development strategy. We will attempt to systemize the relevance of policy issues by taking a look at current acquisition practices. We will also share experiences from the very grass root level acquisition practices and try to shed light on who are the actors and how their interests play a role in the acquisition. Additionally, we discuss the national institutional support for data sharing. We report the practices of national research funding organizations and present our colleagues’ views on how the current practices are operating” (Laaksonen, Borg, and Stebe 2007).