Preservation of Quantitative Data: Problems, Strategies, and Formats

1. Introduction

Quantitative data is in essence simply text data, so in principle its preservation (and sharing) ought to be quite straightforward. However, its effective use requires sophisticated tools that are often commercial and use proprietary formats which can be problematic for long-term preservation and sharing. Open source software and formats may have less functionality, or require a heavier investment in training and technical expertise, which may be impractical for many historians.

So, if you need to use proprietary software to store, retrieve and analyse your data (as is very likely), you need to pay particular attention to the potential pitfalls for sharing and preservation. This document will look at how to plan ahead for preservation, consider some of the issues that can arise for managing data from spreadsheets and databases, and look at common 'portable' plain text formats used to preserve and share data.