Data Archive

Digital Preservation Policies

Odum Archive Organizational Infrastructure

Mission Statement

The Odum Archive's mission is to support and advance education and research in the social sciences through access to digital and legacy materials. Through providing comprehensive data management consultation and support through all phases of the research lifecycle, the Archive promotes accessibility and support for researchers. The Archive is committed to archiving and ensuring long-term retention and management of social science data as well as providing open access through the Data-PASS shared catalog.


The Odum Archive is part of the H. W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science founded in 1924. The Odum Institute is located at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) and is under the governance of the UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Research.


Key Archive personnel include Jonathan Crabtree (Assistant Director for Information Technology and Archival Research), who oversees and directs the Archive and Information Technology group, Thu-Mai Christian (Archival Research Associate), who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Archive, and Sophia Lafferty-Hess (Research Data Manager), who supports curation and data management services. Other staff positions within the Archive are filled by Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) from the UNC School of Information and Library Science. These GRA positions are filled with students who have an interest in data management and/or digital archival work and provide practical experience and training. The Archive is working to provide complete workflow documentation and training manuals to ensure vital information is not lost as staffing positions are rotated. The Archive is a division of the Odum Institute's Information Technology group which provides technological and developmental support to the Archive.

Odum Organizational Chart

In order to better facilitate Odum's mission of promoting research, education, and training in the social sciences, the organization of the Institute is structured as follows:
  • Administration
  • Data archive services
  • Grant services
  • Research design and data collection services
  • Statistical and computing services
  • Institute programs

Odum Digital Preservation Policy Framework

The Archive's policy framework addresses the seven attributes outlined in the Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities. The audience for this framework is Odum staff, UNC-Chapel Hill students, partners, collaborators, funders, users, and digital content contributors.

OAIS Compliance

The Archive is committed to developing policies and procedures which comply with the current standards and practices outlined in the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model (ISO 14721:2003). The Archive's workflow documentation prescribes to the terminology and preservation practices outlined by the OAIS. For more information on Odum's compliance with OAIS standards see the attached paper presented at the International Data Technology Alliance Workshop July 2009.

Administrative Responsibility

Founded in 1924, the Odum Institute is the oldest public university-based interdisciplinary social science research institute in the United States. The Odum Archive continues this tradition through a commitment to the long-term digital preservation of social science data by prescribing to prevailing standards and policies established by the digital archiving community.


  • Commitment to Education: The Archive is committed to the broader mission of UNC-Chapel Hill of promoting scholarly research and advancement. The Archive's specific mandate is to provide ongoing access to social science digital assets for the scholarly community.
  • Data Management Commitment: The Archive provides an infrastructure through the Dataverse Network for social science or public health data management services to ensure this research data is accessible and preserved for the broader community.


  • Identify, acquire, verify, archive, and distribute social science assets through a comprehensive digital preservation program
  • Respond and adapt preservation strategies to changes in technology in responsible and cost-effective ways
  • Foster relationships with social science researchers and collaborative partnerships in order to provide the most comprehensive and best-use of available resources

Organizational Viability


The Archive accepts the responsibility to preserve and make available social science and public health related digital content, including associated documentation and metadata, deposited in the Archive.

Operating Principles

The Archive strives to operate in accordance with this set of established principles:
  • Comply with digital preservation standards and practices (e.g. OAIS and TRAC)
  • Comply with standards and policies set forth by the Data-PASS partnership as outlined in the Best Practices
  • Ensure the ability to provide access to digital content for users, exchange data with partners and provide depositing capabilities for researchers in a way that affirms content remains meaningful, readable and understandable

Roles and Responsibilities

The Odum Archive maintains the responsibility for archiving and making available social science data to the parent institution, depositors, other digital repositories, partners, and all other applicable users of the Archive. The management of the Archive's digital preservation program is accomplished primarily by these roles within the Institution: Director, Assistant Director for Archives and Information Technology, Archival Research Associate, Research Data Manager, Applications Specialist, Applications Analyst, Senior Programming Analyst and GRAs from within UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science.

Selection and Acquisition

The Data-PASS's Content Selection, Appraisal and Acquisition policies outline the Archive's primary priorities and criteria for acquiring digital content. The Archive's Data Deposit Form provides detailed information for depositors on the criteria for acquisition. The Data Management Services page located on Odum's website provides guidance for depositors.

Access and Use

The designated community at the Archive is broad and varies from the traditional users, i.e., social science researchers, faculty and students within the parent organization, to anyone interested in social science data above the age of 13, for instance journalists and policymakers. See the Archive's Access and Use policies and Terms of Use for more detailed information.

Challenges and Risks

  • Changes in Technology: The risk of technological obsolescence, which arises as technology evolves and as new capabilities and content types emerge, necessitates that the Archive must be responsive to continually changing technology.
  • Training and Community Awareness: Since a large aspect of the Archive's staff consists of GRAs, the Archive is committed to providing appropriate training for internal staff concerning digital preservation practices, issues and developments. The Archive is also committed to raising awareness within the designated community of the opportunities afforded by digital preservation, particularly in the field of data management.

Financial Sustainability

  • Institutional Commitment: The H.W. Odum Institute derives funding from a variety of primary and secondary sources. First and foremost, the Institute is funded by the state of North Carolina, enabling the physical placement of the Odum facilities on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Much of the additional funding for the Institute is provided by private and federal grants. All grants awarded to Odum for research are approved and in accordance with policies established by the Vice Chancellor for Research at UNC-Chapel Hill. For more detailed information on funding, please request a copy of Odum's annual budget or contact the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.
  • Cooperation and Collaboration: The Odum Institute recognizes the need for collaboration in digital preservation and works to foster relationships both in the social science fields and across disciplines. As a member of the Data-PASS partnership, Odum has long-standing commitments to ensure every effort is made to provide long-term stewardship of the holdings within the shared catalogue as outlined in the Articles of Collaboration.

Technological and Procedural Suitability

The Archive's main digital holdings consist of social science data, particularly the Louis Harris public opinion data and the U.S. and North Carolina census data, as well as data from studies conducted by UNC-Chapel Hill social science faculty. Upon receipt of new digital content, the Archive processes the data and documentation, assesses that proper confidentiality concerns are addressed, fixes errors if necessary, and converts data formats. The Archive has adopted both normalization of file formats and migration on ingest and performs data migration when necessary as determined by periodic reviews.

Odum requires that all data depositors (excluding those self-archiving) submit a Data Deposit Form in order to make clear the expectations and requirements of both the depositor and the Archive.

System Security

The Archive's Data Deposit Form addresses the need to authenticate digital content through requesting supporting documentation, data sets and a signature for submission. The Archive further ensures the integrity, authenticity and completeness of the data during ingest (see Appraisal policies). The distributed nature of the Data-PASS shared catalogue and the replication and policy-driven audits performed by the PLN via the SafeArchive system works as a disaster plan ensuring the long-term protection of digital assets.

Procedural Accountability

The Archive is committed to promoting trust within the digital community, and amongst its partners and the larger scholarly and designated communities through self-assessments, audits, and transparency of policies and procedures.

Audit and Transparency

The Archive is committed to self-assessment and audits as defined by international standards, such as the ISO 16363 standard (Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories). In response to this commitment, the Archive has attained the Data Seal of Approval (2014-2015) and is preparing for a self-assessment using the ISO 16363 audit criteria. The Archive strives to respond and adapt to changes in the digital preservation community through routinely revisiting policies and procedures. Transparency and auditing capabilities are supported by the SafeArchive system which allows for policy-driven creation of TRAC checklists and audit reports.