EOSC Preservation: Overview Discussion Paper

Landscape, Monitoring and Engagement arrow_forward Landscape Monitoring


This overview highlights that to achieve preservation outcomes we depend on sustained and sustainable preservation systems that take responsibility for monitoring technical and user environments, taking preservation actions on digital objects. Preservation systems exist within a wider network of (meta)data services. Trust across these services, through transparent practice, is vital to the success of federated research infrastructures, including EOSC.


The broad coverage of the EOSC Association’s Long Term Data Preservation Task Force (LTDP-TF) membership provided insight into the wide variety of perspectives around preservation. In seeking to investigate, consult and consolidate these viewpoints into recommendations, it became clear that preservation must be set within its wider context. This overview defines the Task Force’s perspectives of preservation outcomes, systems and actions.

Main highlights

The LTDP TF focuses on the challenge of addressing the complex issue of long-term preservation with the EOSC and designing clear, implementable recommendations at the European, national and institutional levels.

Initial discussions identified the need to scope activities in terms of current and future digital objects. The development and promotion of pan-European rules for good practice around data being developed now, accompanied by clear practice for each research field, and training has the potential to deliver immediate benefits. Reproducing the data may be cheaper, more accurate and less subject to historical rights issues. In other cases, these older digital objects may be irreplaceable and of sufficient value to warrant bringing them up to modern standards.

With an understanding of the wider actions, systems and outcomes, iterative discussions resulted in setting the vision for preservation in a more specific real-world context. Digital objects that act as inputs to, or outputs from, research are identified, findable and accessible in environments that support good storage practice. These objects are subject to appraisal, and reappraisal over time, to assess their value, their impact and the associated costs, risks and benefits. Ongoing appraisal informs the level of investment in the retention, curation and long-term preservation of digital objects. The levels of care, and changes to levels of care, provided by repositories and assigned to digital objects are transparent to (meta)data funders, depositors and users.

Key recommendations

Recommendations on Roles:

  • Roles must support proposals for specific solutions, good practices, training and development of processes.
  • As organisations update their procedures and practices to make their digital objects more FAIR they may need to identify and fill newer roles.
  • Direct curatorial and preservation roles need to be supported by specialised training roles that provide both general and specialist guidance.

Recommendations on Finance:

  • Costs increase as they progress through from effective storage to basic curation, and eventually active preservation.
  • Curation and preservation may become more costly as they seek to comply with more detailed and specific domain or disciplinary standards; but if they are not met, the potential value of digital objects may not be realised.
  • Short-term project funding is not an effective basis for sustainable long-term systems and most preservation costs will be incurred after completion of projects.
  • A full lifecycle perspective is helpful as a failure to invest in quality, FAIRness or other criteria among one group of actors or processes will simply transfer, and potentially increase, that cost to another part of the system.

Recommendations on Network of Trust:

  • Achieving a future vision for long-term preservation within the EOSC can only be achieved through ongoing engagement with curation and preservation professionals.
  • The possible scope and obligations of the network are selected for discussion alongside the requirements for repositories to join the network, monitoring continued compliance with membership criteria and the promotion of broad geographical and disciplinary inclusion.

Co-chair contact

Support officer contact

Type of result