Why digital sustainability matters

Academic research projects face particular challenges to their digital sustainability. 

Funding ends, technologies change or become obsolete, and researchers move on to new projects, leaving behind research that spans many disciplines in Oxford, across the University's academic divisions and its gardens, libraries and museums. Research continues to be used, added to, and adapted long after the initial project has ended. This "life's work" provides a vital resource for academic communities around the world, and also contributes to future research projects.   

It is important that research data and assets be:    

  • Live, ready to be continuously updated. Scholars continue to make new findings, which they want to make available and enable collaboration with other researchers.   
  • Open, available to access by researchers from institutions outside Oxford and across the world. In many cases, these are also important cultural heritage collections, used by broad communities with audiences that go well beyond the research environment.   
  • Discoverable, and ready to be queried in many ways. This provides the catalyst for future research projects and opens up new opportunities for collaboration.

The aim of the Sustainable Digital Scholarship (SDS) service is to keep Oxford's research alive by helping researchers and their projects to safeguard the digital legacy of their research for years to come. 

How we provide digital sustainability

The SDS service draws on multiple different repositories and archiving solutions across the University (Incl. ORA, DigiSafe and RFS), as well as offering our own SDS platform

The SDS platform, is an online open-access research repository, that allows researchers: to deposit their research outputs, ranging from text to images to audio-visual media to code or .XML files (for example, TEI files); to tag them with custom keywords and metadata; to organise them into datasets or collections; to share them with collaborators, researchers, and the general public; and to search across their datasets by keywords and metadata fields. 

We don't adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, the SDS service aims to connect researchers at the University of Oxford with the digital sustainability solution that best fits a project's needs and resources. The SDS service also connects researchers with other teams at the University who can offer advice and guidance on data management more broadly e.g. Research Data Oxford, Open Scholarship Support and with the Mosaic team who manage the University's web publishing platform.

If you're planning a new digital project, or looking for a solution to keep an existing project online, please do get in touch