Isaac Newton's 'Waste Book'

'Store it safely', 'Explain it', 'Share it' and 'Start early' – four key signposts to follow for successfully managing and preserving your digital legacy, according to a project team at Cambridge University Library.

The PrePARe project aims to provide researchers with the guidance they need to ensure that their digital research material can have a lasting impact.

Grant Young

Increasing amounts of research material are now being produced, collected and stored in digital form, and scholars across all disciplines have become not only the creators but also the consumers, curators and archivists of their own digital assets. For the past nine months, PrePARe, a project managed by the University Library’s digital repository team and funded by JISC, has been exploring how research staff and students at the University of Cambridge are dealing with these changing roles.

Earlier this year, the project interviewed researchers across the University of Cambridge to identify their attitudes, experiences and needs in digital management and preservation issues. The results were overwhelmingly clear: although scholars wanted to protect their digital legacy, either a lack of guidance or simply not having the time often meant that digital preservation was treated as a low priority.

Now, aiming to advise on good practice and to raise awareness of digital preservation generally, the project team is responding to these findings by delivering simple guidance centred around four key signposts: ‘Store it safely’, ‘Explain it’, ‘Share it’ and ‘Start early’ (see below). New online resources have been created, training modules are being integrated into the University’s graduate training provision, and  a cross-disciplinary seminar series has been organised.

"Managing data well ensures research integrity and replication, provides opportunities for researchers to discover and share information, and increases the longevity of research," said Grant Young, the Library’s digital preservation manager. “The PrePARe project aims to provide researchers with the guidance they need to ensure that their digital research material can have a lasting impact.”

The new resources, launched today, are available at

For more information on the project, please contact Barbara Bültmann, PrePARe Project Manager ( or visit

How to send your research into the future

<p><strong>Store it safely</strong>: to prevent data loss, make multiple copies, save them onto different types of storage media and store them in different locations</p> <p><strong>Explain it</strong>: provide contextual information with each file, making it findable for yourself and others, and explain acronyms and jargon but also the purpose and parameters of your research</p> <p><strong>Share it</strong>: widen the impact of your research by using repositories or data centres for archiving your material. You can control access, redact or embargo material if that is most appropriate for the material.</p> <p><strong>Start early</strong>: get into good habits early – make a plan for how to manage your research materials. Using appropriate file formats, organising and documenting files and obtaining necessary permissions over the course of the project will save you time later.</p>

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