Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government

Working Papers

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1995



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Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government: Working Papers Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government Working Papers Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1995

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Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government: Working Papers NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.Washington, DC20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this project was provided by the National Archives and Records Administration (under Contract No. NAMA-S-92-0019), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under Contract No. 50-DGNE-3-00105), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (under Contract No. S-54040-Z). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agencies or subagencies. Additional copies of this report are available from: Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications 2101 Constitution Ave., NW National Research Council Washington, DC 20814 Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government: Working Papers STEERING COMMITTEE FOR THE STUDY ON THE LONG-TERM RETENTION OF SELECTED SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RECORDS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara, Chair SHELTON ALEXANDER, Pennsylvania State University MARJORIE COURAIN, Consultant (deceased, January 14, 1994) JOHN A. DUTTON, Pennsylvania State University WILLIAM EMERY, University of Colorado BRUCE GRITTON, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute ROY JENNE, National Center for Atmospheric Research WILLIAM KURTH, University of Iowa DAVID LIDE, Consultant, Gaithersburg, Maryland B.K. RICHARD, TRW JOAN WARNOW-BLEWETT, American Institute of Physics National Research Council Staff Paul F. Uhlir, Associate Executive Director, Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications Mark David Handel, Program Officer, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Alice Killian, Research Associate, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources James E. Mallory, Staff Officer, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Scott T. Weidman, Senior Program Officer, Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology Julie M. Esanu, Research Assistant, Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications David J. Baskin, Project Assistant, Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

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Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government: Working Papers COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS RICHARD N. ZARE, Stanford University, Chair RICHARD S. NICHOLSON, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vice Chair STEPHEN L. ADLER, Institute for Advanced Study SYLVIA T. CEYER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology SUSAN L. GRAHAM, University of California at Berkeley ROBERT J. HERMANN, United Technologies Corporation RHONDA J. HUGHES, Bryn Mawr College SHIRLEY A. JACKSON, Department of Physics KENNETH I. KELLERMANN, National Radio Astronomy Observatory HANS MARK, University of Texas at Austin THOMAS A. PRINCE, California Institute of Technology JEROME SACKS, National Institute of Statistical Sciences L.E. SCRIVEN, University of Minnesota A. RICHARD SEEBASS III, University of Colorado LEON T. SILVER, California Institute of Technology CHARLES P. SLICHTER, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ALVIN W. TRIVELPIECE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory SHMUEL WINOGRAD, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center CHARLES A. ZRAKET, MITRE Corporation (retired) NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director PAUL F. UHLIR, Associate Executive Director

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Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government: Working Papers Preface This volume contains the working papers of the panels created by the Steering Committee for the Study on the Long-Term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government. These papers were advisory to the steering committee and represent the opinions of the members of each panel in the context of their individual charges. The papers were not officially edited or reviewed by the National Research Council. The steering committee provided the following guidelines to the panels for the preparation of their reports: Describe a representative spectrum of scientific and technical data in the panel's discipline area(s) that either have been, or could be, designated as records of the federal government.1 Estimate and generally characterize the data expected to be acquired by the federal government in the discipline area(s) over the next decade. Identify the principal scientific, technical, and information management (including custodial and ownership) issues regarding this existing and projected data inventory. Select several illustrative examples for more detailed analysis and characterize those data according to the following attributes (to the extent feasible): subject; source; approximate volume; shape (dimensionality and cardinality); level(s) of processing; information content, completeness, and accuracy; metadata (dataset documentation); scientific (primary) and archival (secondary) research and reference use of the data; format and media considerations of the data (i.e., electronic, textual, and microform data sets; volume of data; etc.); media or format-related considerations involved in the long-term preservation, access, and reference of the data; and any other characteristics the panel considers important. 1   “‘[Federal] records' includes all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government because of the informational value of the data in them” (44 U.S.C. 3301).

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Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government: Working Papers Review the similarities and differences among the various types of representative data chosen as examples. Develop specific goals, principles, and priorities for the long-term retention of these data, with particular emphasis on priorities that may be generalized to other related disciplines. Prepare retention criteria for consideration by the steering committee. The following elements should be addressed: A process and schedule to identify and prioritize long-term scientific (primary) and enduring archival (secondary) value of scientific data. Give examples of what can be thrown away, or what priorities might change with the passage of time. Is there a difference between the long-term retention of data for scientific research (primary value), and for enduring archival (secondary value) research? Where can the boundaries be drawn in applying the goals, principles, and priorities developed in Task Number 3, and in managing the data over long periods of time? The information content required to support long-term scientific (primary) and archival (secondary) accessibility and assessability (i.e., associated metadata, research protocols, calibration, georeferencing, and other transformations of the data); Technology dependent and independent issues; The feasibility and costs of recreating any data set versus the feasibility and cost of preserving it for long-term scientific (primary) use or for permanent archival (secondary) reference; and The extent to which subject matter expertise may be required to provide adequate reference service for long periods of time. Prepare appraisal guidelines that effectively encompass the recommended retention criteria developed by the panel, and the time period to which the recommended appraisal criteria apply. Consider the statutory, legal, administrative, custodial, and institutional issues and responsibilities of the National Archives, the federal scientific research and development agencies, and the scientific and technical communities with regard to the long-term retention and scientific (primary) and archival (secondary) use of scientific data. Using the considerations in Task Number 5 above and the retention criteria and appraisal guidelines developed by the panel, describe the ideal archival institution with regard to preservation, primary and secondary reference use, and long-term access to data. Provide conclusions and recommendations. Each panel met twice to obtain briefings, discuss the issues, and prepare its paper for the steering committee. The panel chairs presented their papers in oral and written form at the January 1994 meeting of the steering committee, and were invited to participate with the committee in its initial attempts to generate a cohesive set of overall recommendations. The steering committee thus based its final decisions and recommendations in significant part on the contents of the panel papers and on the discussions with the panel chairs. Because all five panels used the same guidelines, there are some redundancies among the papers. Nevertheless, the panels each tended to emphasize different aspects of the topic, and together the papers provide a comprehensive perspective on the major issues involved in the long-term retention of scientific and technical data in the physical sciences. Finally, the steering committee was encouraged by the remarkable convergence in the conclusions and recommendations of the five panels, despite the fact that they performed their studies separately. This substantial agreement in the views expressed by the panels helped to validate the steering committee's own conclusions and recommendations, which are presented in a separately published document, Preserving Scientific Data on Our Physical Universe: A New Strategy for Archiving the Nation's Scientific Information Resources (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995). The steering committee would like to thank all the panel participants, the panels' invited guests, and the National Research Council staff involved in the preparation of these five papers, which the steering committee found invaluable in preparing its final report. Jeff Dozier, Chair Steering Committee for the Study on the Long-term Retention of Selected Scientific and Technical Records of the Federal Government