Vulnerable small

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.

Group: Research Outputs

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

reduced riskTrend towards reduced risk

Previous classification: Vulnerable


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within five years, detailed assessment within three years

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

It would require a small effort to preserve materials in this group, with the deployment of proven tools or techniques.


Scholarly E-Books, Electronic Journals, E-theses, Electronic Monographs.

‘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.

2021 Jury 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.

Additional Comments

The 2022 BitList Taskforce recommends that the next 2023 Jury review considers splitting this entry into separate areas to assess 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.

  • Electronic theses typically hosted on an institutional repository or similar platform, sometimes with a copy harvested by an aggregation service (e.g., Ethos).


See also:

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