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Increasing the value of university research records by preserving context

Cowan, R.A.ORCID: 0000-0003-0417-2208 and Lillico, M. (2009) Increasing the value of university research records by preserving context. In: Pember, M. and Cowan, R.A., (eds.) iRMA Information and Records Management Annual 2009. RMAA, St Helens, Tasmania, pp. 85-105.

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It is customary within the University sector that, over the duration of a research project, records will be created and kept by many different stakeholders, both within internal and external administration centres and by researchers on a project. Usually, only research administration records are carefully kept and maintained formally within Universities. Raw data and other project records created by researchers are also valuable University assets, but only as long as the context of the information is maintained. Research project records held by researchers, however, are often managed in isolation and left behind after a project is completed without any identifying contextual information or links to the corresponding records held in administration.

In order to have a complete and accurate record of a research project, the data and the context in which the data were produced should also be kept. Throughout the Western World there are a number of very large digital repositories for research data. This paper argues that data without the associated contextual records, such as how or why data were gathered; how or why data were interpreted; and how or why final conclusions were reached, means that these repositories are not keeping complete and accurate records of the research. This paper proposes the minimum metadata required to ensure contextual information about research records is maintained over time and linked to the research records, ensuring that the ongoing value of the information is preserved for future researchers and the community.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Murdoch University Library
Publisher: RMAA
Copyright: Copyright © 2009 of individual articles is retained by the authors
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