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    Digital Scholarly Journals are Poorly Preserved: A Study of 7 Million Articles

    Eve, Martin Paul (2024) Digital Scholarly Journals are Poorly Preserved: A Study of 7 Million Articles. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 12 (1), ISSN 2162-3309.

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    Introduction Digital preservation underpins the persistence of scholarly links and citations through the DOI system. We do not currently know, at scale, the extent to which articles assigned a DOI are adequately preserved. Methods We construct a database of preservation information from original archival sources and then examine the preservation statuses of 7,438,037 DOIs in a random sample. Results Of the 7,438,037 works examined, there were 5.9 million copies spread over the archives used in this work. Further, 4,342,368 of the works that we studied (58.38%) were present in at least one archive. However, this left 2,056,492 works in our sample (27.64%) that are seemingly unpreserved. The remaining 13.98% of works in the sample were excluded either for being too recent (published in the current year), not being journal articles, or having insufficient date metadata for us to identify the source. Discussion Our study is limited by design in several ways. Among these are the facts that it uses only a subset of archives; it only tracks articles with DOIs; and it does not account for institutional repository coverage. Nonetheless, as an initial attempt to gauge the landscape, our results will still be of interest to libraries, publishers, and researchers. Conclusion This work reveals an alarming preservation deficit. Only 0.96% of Crossref members (n=204) can be confirmed to digitally preserve over 75% of their content in 3 or more of the archives that we studied.1 A slightly larger proportion – 8.5% (n=1,797) – preserved over 50% of their content in 2 or more archives. Many members – 57.7% (n=12,257) – though, only met the threshold of having 25% of their material in a single archive. Most worryingly, 32.9% (n=6,982) of Crossref members seem not to have any adequate digital preservation in place, against the recommendations of the Digital Preservation Coalition. Implications for Practice We suggest a number of actions that could strengthen preservation cultures, including: • DOI registration agencies upgrading their contractual wording from ‘best efforts’ to define a minimum required standard of preservation, with certified archives listed. This will require periodic review. • DOI registration agencies beginning enforcement of the preservation clause, with appropriate member sanctions. • DOI registration agencies upgrading DOI deposit schemas to make preservation assertions mandatory. • DOI registration agencies and other groups, perhaps from the library community, regularly confirming the accuracy of preservation assertions. • Library groups and other organizations (such as OASPA, DOAJ, and the Library Publishing Coalition) creating and continuing an education and outreach campaign for publisher members that emphasizes digital preservation. This could also include webinars for new members. • DOI registration agencies conducting direct outreach to members in the lower ranking preservation categories, bearing in mind that targeting larger members here may have disproportionate benefits. • DOI registration agencies considering nationally specific campaigns where clear problems have emerged on a geographical basis. • DOI registration agencies introducing an opt-in, but automated, system for preserving content through DOI registration mechanisms. We also note that the unavailability of item-level preservation data represents a significant challenge to observation of the digital preservation landscape.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Martin Eve
    Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2023 13:02
    Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 14:18


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