Since the end of core funding for the UK’S Arts and Humanities Data Service, its constituent services have had do a bit more thinking about the costs of disseminating and preserving digital data.

The Archaeology Data Service has recently published a revised charging policy, which puts figures against the various tasks in undertakes on behalf of its user community – liasing with those with digital data, undertaking ingest procedures, creating dissemination mechanisms and undertaking long-term storage and migration of digital objects.

Sensibly, the service is now charging future depositors a one-off cost at the point of ingest; asking researchers who work on fixed term projects to pay annual costs for storage is just not feasible

As one would expect the costs raise with the complexity and the size of the digital data created. More staff time and more storage is required for a complex GIS-based deposit. The cost of disseminating a database can be up to £10,000 ($20,000), while storage is charged at £0.30 per megabyte.

Drawing on their figures here is a small, very hypothetical case study – a project wishing to deposit 2000 tiff images (6000MB in total) and disseminate 2000 derived jpeg images (500MB in total) would have to pay 6 days of staff time for management (around £2000), perhaps around £3000 for image costs and £1950 in storage costs (6,500 MB * £0.30).

This would make a total of £6,950.

If the entire project funding had been around £200,000k, the dissemination and preservation costs would only be 3.5% of the total funds. Not bad going at all.