JISCMRD Projects and the OAIS Reference Model

Joss Winn has recently blogged about the Orbital Project’s use of the OAIS Reference model in which he makes some very important points.

The mistake to make with OAIS is looking at the model and thinking that you have to create a system that is designed in such a way, rather than functions in such a way. The OAIS standard is a tool that allows Archivists, Designers and Developers to share a common language when discussing and planning the implementation of a digital archive and what that archive should do, not how it should be designed.

The task ahead of the Orbital Team is to consider how our on-going [system] designs relate to the OAIS functional model.

In particular, Joss points to the OAIS Function Cards produced by Cornell and Göttingen State Universities.  These are allowing the Orbital project to ‘tick off’ high level and more detailed OAIS functions in their system design.

Joss ends the blog: ‘I’d be very interested to hear from other MRD projects that are looking at the OAIS standard in detail, as well as people from earlier projects that have been through this process before.’  Please get in touch with him on the Orbital Blog.

Within the current JISCMRD programme, the MaRDI Gross Project is focussing on the OAIS model, in a slightly different, but hopefully complementary way.

The Managing Research Data – Gravitational Waves Project produced, inter alia, two key recommendations:

  1. Funders should simply require that a project develop a high-level DMP as a suitable profile of the OAIS specification.
  2. Funders should support projects in creating per-project OAIS profiles which are appropriate to the project and meet funders strategic priorities and responsibilities.

The MaRDI-Gross project therefore, will develop an intellectual ‘toolkit’ which will be supporting infrastructure for project-specific DMP planning, built on the OAIS model.  The project argues that ‘the data-management systems for projects of this scale are essentially always bespoke, so that there is no useful way in which software or ‘tick-list’ components can be provided for DMP planning in this space. The ‘kit’ must instead be a set of documentary resources targeted at technical managers and engineers.’

The likely structure for the toolkit will be:

  1. Overviews of the OAIS methodology and goals
  2. Indications of the state of the art in OAIS application, validation and auditing.
  3. (References to) Backup documentation including the OAIS specification and selected developments or applications of it.
  4. Case-studies of existing DMP efforts in existing projects.
  5. Costing models for DMP planning, to the extent that this is feasible and useful.

Further information is provided in a brief MaRDI-Gross-Requirements document and (soon) at the MaRDI-Gross site.

The project also aims to develop material tailored for use by funding organisations in the development of policy and guidelines, as well as assessment materials for funders and reviewers.

The project has suffered a few delays, but is aiming to deliver a draft or strawman version by the significant date of Tuesday 21 February.  Watch this space!

One reply on “JISCMRD Projects and the OAIS Reference Model”

The OAIS Functional Model seems the focus of much of these projects. The Functional Model certainly provides an enormous number of useful concepts and terminologies and although it is not meant as a specific design it certainly is useful to check actual designs.

However it is important to remember that conformance is defined, within OAIS itself, in terms of the mandatory responsibilities and following the Information Model.

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