Digital Curation

Rapidly increasing volumes of data from all fields of science, business and government, as well as educational, archival and cultural material, are directly produced in, or transformed into digital form, thus being a most important investment in both functional and economic terms. The value of these digital assets can grow considerably if new, or combined uses of them are technically enabled. Most organizations worldwide lag behind in their capacity of preserving and exploiting digital assets in the long term, facing considerable risks of loss or uselessness of those assets, and it is financially or practically very straining, if not infeasible, for most digital asset owners to take the necessary actions individually. Collaborative schemes including specialized scientific units suggest themselves a natural alternative.

Digital curation encompasses a set of activities aiming at the production of high quality, dependable digital assets; their organization, archiving and long-term preservation; and the generation of added value from digital assets by means of resource-based knowledge elicitation. To ensure the adequate capture of the context of digital resources and their subsequent creative and effective use, one needs to consider the full lifecycle of digital assets, such as records, digital surrogates and scholarly/scientific datasets. This approach favours a multi-facetted analysis of issues and combined use of methods, techniques and tools from the fields of informatics (especially, areas such as knowledge representation and management, knowledge extraction, ontology engineering, multimedia data management, Web technologies, digital libraries, workflow management); management and decision sciences (especially, areas such as workflow analysis, reliability analysis and cost-benefit analysis); library science and archives management; material culture studies, museology and communications; epistemology; and law.

Digital curation services are envisaged as a main mechanism of ensuring the preservation of the evidential function of records as the vocabularies, methods and frames of reference in science and scholarship evolve. Besides digital archiving and preservation, services also cover developing and supporting standards and methodologies, providing semantically enhanced information and communication services based on curated collections, and mentoring and "incubating" best practice among organizations.