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An activity-based costing model for long-term preservation and dissemination of digital research data: the case of DANS


Financial sustainability is an important attribute of a trusted, reliable digital repository. The authors of this paper use the case study approach to develop an activity-based costing (ABC) model. This is used for estimating the costs of preserving digital research data and identifying options for improving and sustaining relevant activities. The model is designed in the environment of the Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) institute, a well-known trusted repository. The DANS–ABC model has been tested on empirical cost data from activities performed by 51 employees in frames of over 40 different national and international projects. Costs of resources are being assigned to cost objects through activities and cost drivers. The ‘euros per dataset’ unit of costs measurement is introduced to analyse the outputs of the model. Funders, managers and other decision-making stakeholders are being provided with understandable information connected to the strategic goals of the organisation. The latter is being achieved by linking the DANS–ABC model to another widely used managerial tool—the Balanced Scorecard (BSC). The DANS–ABC model supports costing of services provided by a data archive, while the combination of the DANS–ABC with a BSC identifies areas in the digital preservation process where efficiency improvements are possible.


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We would like to thank all the employees of DANS for their active support and participation in this work. Special thanks goes to Valentijn Gilissen, Maarten Hoogerwerf, Rutger Kramer and Lucas Pasteuning.

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Correspondence to Anna S. Palaiologk.

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Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS).

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Palaiologk, A.S., Economides, A.A., Tjalsma, H.D. et al. An activity-based costing model for long-term preservation and dissemination of digital research data: the case of DANS. Int J Digit Libr 12, 195–214 (2012).

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  • Digital preservation costs
  • Data archiving
  • Cost drivers
  • Activity-based costing
  • Cost model
  • Balanced scorecard
  • Cost estimation
  • Performance measurement
  • Strategic planning
  • Funding
  • Organisational structure
  • Total quality management
  • DANS
  • ABC
  • BSC