Published Research Papers

   Endangered large

Completed research papers published in serials, monographs or theses which fall under specific collecting policies of research libraries or archives and are managed through dedicated repository infrastructures.

Digital Species: Research Outputs

Trend in 2022:

No change No Change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Trend in 2023:

No change No Change

Previously: Vulnerable

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve | Inevitability

It would require a small effort to preserve materials in this group, requiring the application of proven tools and techniques.


Published research papers in scholarly E-Books and Electronic Journals; Electronic manuscripts; Electronic theses (E-theses).

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of documentation; lack of clarity with respect to intellectual property; embedded complex objects; unstable funding for repository; lack of strategic investment; complex external dependencies; lack of persistent identifiers; bespoke formats; lack of legal deposit mandate.

‘Lower Risk’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Strong documentation including intellectual property rights; clarity of preservation path and ensuing responsibilities; credible preservation plan; proven capacity of repository; legal deposit preservation copying; post-cancellation access service; persistent identifiers used consistently; non-proprietary formats used and validated; minimal or well managed external dependencies.

2023 Review

This entry was added in 2017 under 'Published research outputs,' though without reference to the capacity of the repository infrastructure. The 2019 Jury amended it to presume the existence of repository infrastructure and noted that the aggravating conditions (which introduce risks) and good practice enhancements (which reduce it) are most relevant to repository operations.

While the 2020 Jury found no change in trend, the 2021 Jury agreed it should remain Vulnerable but discussed improvements and initiatives towards the preservation of research data and outputs, pointing to a trend towards reduced risk.

The 2023 Council agreed with the Vulnerable classification, noting a slight decrease in imminence of action with no significant trends towards greater or reduced risk.

Additionally, the Council recommended that a nomination received for a new ‘E-theses’ entry would provide a valuable example to this entry rather than as a new, standalone entry. However, as noted in the additional comments below, a recommended rescoping of the entry planned the next Bit List will revisit this nomination again as part of a restructuring.

Additional Comments

The 2023 Council additionally recognize that further scoping and input are needed for this entry and recommend that the next major review revisit and restructure the entry, in particular looking at restructuring based on differences between:

  • Types of published material. There are different levels of risk relating to the published version of record of the research paper (typically hosted on a publisher or aggregator platform), research papers hosted on institutional open access repositories (typically the author accepted manuscript rather than the version of record), and E- theses (typically hosted on an institutional repository or similar platform, sometimes with a copy harvested by an aggregation service, such as Ethos). However, there is a chance of becoming too granular with entries if separating them by types.

  • The version of the record hosted on the publisher platform and the version hosted in open access repository. In other words, it might be a better question to ask where it is being published rather than what is being published. Preservation risks and considerations for these are quite different and would benefit from being assessed separately.

A 2023 nomination for E-theses highlights distinct risks tied to these digital published materials. E-theses tend to be sole documents which when published by universities may get harvested into other aggregators or resources but in many cases the only copy (with no physical/analogue copy) sits on an Institution's repository. In addition, many are deposited in PDF format (of many varieties and many don't even attempt to use PDF/A etc.) risking long term accessibility and re-use. However, the breadth of risks goes beyond just the PDF variety, as e-theses often include databases, audiovisual materials, websites, and more.

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world. Particularly those involved with reproducibility and those wishing to use the datasets for further research.

Although there have been improvements in current practice, policies and workflows, there is still a significant corpus of information that was deposited before these improvements came into force. It is unlikely that there will be the time, will or resources to bring this information up to current standards.

See also:

  • Konstantelos, L., (2021) ‘Breaking down barriers in e-only thesis submission: how digital preservation contributes to the conversation at the University of Glasgow’, Digital Preservation Coalition Blog. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • Klungthanaboon, W., (2021) ‘From “research output'' to “research data'' - a willingness to move forward?’, Digital Preservation Coalition Blog. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • Beagrie, N (2013) ‘Preservation, Trust and Continuing Access for E-Journals’, DPC Technology Watch Report 13-04. Available at:

  • Morrissey, S, and Kirchhoff, A (2014) ‘Preserving E-Books’, DPC Technology Watch Report 14-01. Available at:

  • Resources and recent outputs from Public Knowledge Project (PKP) Preservation Network, which developed to digitally preserve Open Journal Systems (OJS) journals. See Public Knowledge Project (n.d.) ‘PKP Preservation Network’. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]


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