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Vol. 25 No. 2
March-April 2003

IUPAC Wire | News and information on IUPAC, its fellows, and members organizations
See also www.iupac.org/news

Maintaining the Permanent Availability of the Digital Records of Science - A Statement by the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information

Following are excerpts from the ICSTI’s statement on preserving digital information released in December 2002:

"Despite the growing efforts of many of the varied stakeholders involved in generating, organizing, and providing access to scientific information and data, much of it in digital form is still at risk of being lost to future generations. The same can be said of the digital data collected over the past 40 years. Data from the Viking mission to Mars is just one example of expensively gathered, important information that has already been lost. More needs to be done as a matter of urgency to put in place systematic structures which can ensure the long-term availability of the records of science to all who need them, bearing in mind the special difficulties that developing countries have in accessing digital publications."

The ICSTI document describes succinctly the nature of the problem and who can solve it and concludes with the following recommendations:

"ICSTI urges the International Council for Science and its scientific unions to:

  • Undertake for each of the scientific disciplines a high-level audit of digital preservation policies and practices that are now in place (ICSTI welcomes the lead taken by IUPAP in proposing a system to monitor electronic publishing and preservation practices in pure and applied physics.)
  • Work with the other key stakeholders in defining user requirements for archives. Because scientific information and data generation has a national as well as an international dimension;
  • It urges the National Academies to sponsor similar audits on a national basis.
  • It recommends that all agencies funding scientific research should formulate and publish policies on the preservation of the research they fund.

ICSTI recommends that all scientists undertaking research should bear in mind the importance of the long-term preservation of the data and information they generate and adopt such standards as are recommended to facilitate this."

Please address questions and comments to Wendy A. Warr <wendy@warr.com>, IUPAC representative on the ICSTI.

www.icsti.org/advocacy_statement.html


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