Created Date:30 September 2009
Last Updated:1st August 2016
Review Due:August 2017 (unless significant change)
Authors:Catherine Hardman
Maintained By:Louisa Matthews


  1. Preamble
  2. Introduction
  3. Charging levels
  4. Conditions of deposit of data
  5. Application of the Policy
  6. Conclusion

1. Preamble

The principles outlined within the ADS charging policy follow charging levels based on four elements of work: Management and Administration; Ingest; Dissemination; Storage and Refreshment. The rationale and justification behind our charging policy has not changed since the previous iteration (version 4) in 2007. However, technological developments, including the advent of our online submission system (ADS-easy) have meant that the application of the policy has become more refined – taking a more nuanced approach to smaller and more well-understood archives. The application of the charging policy is described in Section 5 – Application of the Policy.

2. Introduction

Professional ethics within the archaeological community and the wider Open Access movement require that access to primary data should be free at the point of use. This approach has been extended to digital archives, although it is accepted that in order to recoup the ongoing costs of digital preservation, some means of cost recovery is essential (Condron et al 1999). Within the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) this led, in the late 1990s, to the introduction of a charging policy. The central tenets of this policy remain that:

  • ADS resources will be freely accessible
  • Archiving costs should be recovered from the body funding the archaeological investigation or research
  • A one-off payment collected at the time of deposit will be used to safeguard the long-term future of digital data

This edition of the charging policy defines the new level of charges. A refined level of charging has been introduced in order to reflect the increasing volume (both in file size and number of files) of an average deposit and the related storage and refreshment costs for digital data. The ADS is now almost wholly project funded. This means that all deposits must be subject to some level of charge. This includes those created within UK Higher Education.

The purpose of this document is to make the scale of charges explicit and open so that those preparing project applications or tenders for work are able to understand and justify appropriate additional costs to cover digital archiving. The ADS implements this policy sensitively and depositors for whom the charging policy creates major difficulties are encouraged to contact the Collections Development Manager for assistance. It is expected that, with sufficient planning, all projects will be able to include the cost of deposition with the ADS within their grant application, tender or bid.

This includes:

  • Research Council UK Funding (AHRC, NERC, EPSRC, etc.)
  • Other higher education funded work (British Academy, Leverhulme Trust)
  • European Commission (ERC, Horizon 2020)
  • Central governmental agencies – e.g. project work for Historic England
  • Local government
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Developer-funded or commercial archaeology
  • National or local society or other charitable organisation – charge levied subject to assessment
  • Unfunded research and PhD outputs – charge levied subject to assessment

Indeed, whilst this policy document provides an introductory guide, all potential depositors should contact the ADS Collections Development Manager prior to the submission of project designs which include ADS costs.

3. Charging levels

The following charges assume that data sets are supplied in ADS delivery formats, with accompanying documentation, as stipulated in the Guidelines for Depositors. Where other formats are involved, or where the data supplied to the ADS requires greater attention of a member of ADS staff, the model is not applicable and costs will deviate from the model. The ADS operates according to the OAIS ISO standard for digital preservation which requires active curation, management, and dissemination of digital data. The cost of digital curation is calculated on the basis of four elements, outlined in the table below.

Management and AdministrationStaff time in days (Collections Development Manager and Administrator).
IngestStaff time in days (Digital Archivist)
Dissemination (online delivery of archive)Staff time in days (Digital Archivist)
Storage and RefreshmentOn-costs of current and future data storage, and technological refreshment
OverheadsUniversity of York overheads
VATVAT is payable on ADS services

Each of the above elements is explained in detail in the following paragraphs. Readers requiring in-depth technical explanation are referred to our procedural documents; the ADS Preservation Policy, ADS Repository Operations and ADS Ingest Manual.

3.1. Management and administration

The cost reflects the time spent in processing the deposit, including negotiation with the depositor, dealing with rights management issues and deposit licences and issuing invoices. For most straightforward archives this will amount to one day or less of the Collections Development Manager (CDM) and less than a day of the Administrator, costed at current daily rates plus overheads. This is the basis for our Costing Calculator fixed fee for management and administration (see section 5).
Substantial projects of long duration may require in excess of ten days of Collections Development Manager time and dedicated specialist advice from an archivist.

3.2. Ingest

The costs reflect the number of ADS staff days necessary to migrate the data to ADS preferred formats; the harmonisation of filenames, the creation of delivery and preservation formats and their transfer to off-site storage, checksum procedures, and inputting of file level and project level metadata to the ADS Collections Management System. The time required will be dependent on the number, format and complexity of files deposited. Over 100 different procedures and checks are done to each and every file to ensure their integrity and security.

3.2.1. ADS-Easy and Ingest

In many circumstances Ingest costs can be reduced by using ADS-easy and the costing calculator (see Section 5 – Application). In the costing calculator, ingest costs are a sum of a known minimum time required to ingest a relatively small archive, plus a function of the number of files and a cost-weighting per file based on complexity.

It will therefore be more cost effective for those with small archives comprised primarily of text, images, or ‘flat’ (non-relational) tabulated data (e.g. spreadsheets) with a limited number of accompanying CAD or GIS files, to submit their files using ADS-easy. This is because the online system feeds directly into our internal processes where we can semi-automate many of the actions that would otherwise be done by a member of staff by hand. These cost savings are passed onto the depositor.

3.3. Dissemination

The file-based ingest charges described above include an allowance to cover the creation of a basic archive delivery web page, within the ADS catalogue, and the delivery of data via simple file download (commonly referred to as ‘download-only interfaces’). The time taken to produce a download-only interface will vary according to the complexity of the structure of the archive and the breadth of data types in its contents.

3.3.1. Database and Map Interfaces

Should the depositor require a special interface (on-line searchable database, interactive map interface etc.) then such services will be charged at the current ADS day rates, plus university overheads on staff costs. As the interface requirements for each project will be unique, these must be subject to price on request, but as an approximate indicator, an online query facility may generally cost c. £1000-£5000, whilst an interactive map interface may cost c.£5000-£10,000. Depositors should also be aware that unlike the data we preserve, special interface functionality has a finite life-span as web technologies (browsers, languages) change. We undertake to keep special interfaces live for a period of 5 years, and thereafter on a best-efforts basis (although to date most of our interfaces have lasted 7+ years).

3.4. Storage and refreshment

Storage and refreshment are essential for a digital repository, and can be split into two key areas:
*The ability to maintain and upgrade an array of storage hardware.
*The ability to undertake ongoing monitoring of formats and migration of files to preserve their functionality and significant properties. This is known as ‘preservation by migration’, and is the strategy used by ADS for long-tern preservation – see our Preservation Policy for more details.

It has generally been the case that data storage costs have decreased over time, whilst the rate of software change necessitating the preservation of data by migration has continued at a relatively even pace. Whilst the ADS seeks to ensure most data are in open or clearly recognised stable formats at the point of accession it is necessary to include the costs of the future migration of data into perpetuity within the one-off storage and refreshment charge. The cost of secure storage also needs to be taken into consideration –the ADS has off-site storage, completely independent of the ADS and wider University of York systems.

The storage and refreshment charge must be applied to the whole preservation footprint of an archive, including both those files deposited and their archival versions calculated according to current preservation practice.

At the present time a fee of £6.00 per GB for storage is deemed appropriate to cover the costs of storage at the time of deposition and provide a level of security for future storage necessitated by refreshment.

4. Conditions of deposit of data

Data must be supplied:

  • In preferred or accepted formats
  • With completed documentation (metadata)
  • With signed Licence Agreement (sent electronically on deposition)

Our Guidelines for Depositors lay out the nature and content of accompanying documentation. Please do not submit a project without checking that you are in a position to sign our licence agreement (a copy can be found here), and are happy with our terms of use and access.

4.1. Invoicing

All charges are subject to University of York overheads on staff costs and VAT at the standard rate.
All invoices will be issued by the University of York Finance Department. The University follows a standard 30-day payment system.

In cases where a depositor subsequently withdraws their deposit, the ADS reserves the right to charge a withdrawal fee to recover value added to data through the archival process, management and dissemination by the Service. Withdrawal fees may include all costs incurred by the Service up to withdrawal minus any deposit charges where these have been levied at deposit.

4.1.1. Projects to the value of £5,000 or more.

From the 1st August 2016 it will be policy to ask that in instances where the costs of archiving will exceed £5000 exc. VAT in total, that a proportion of the total cost is charged at the time of deposition, hereafter referred to as an ‘accession fee’.

4.1.2. Advance payment for archives

It is sometimes the case that depositors need to pay in full in advance of archive release, in order to meet the requirements of funding organisations. Where depositions are insufficiently complete for the ADS to complete the preservation and release of a collection within a reasonable time frame, then we reserve the right to retain funds to cover the costs of work done and de-accessioning material. Notice will always be provided to any depositor whose collection may be de-accessioned.

5. Application of the Policy

Section 3 outlined the rationale behind the charging policy; its practical application is addressed here.

The introduction of online submission tools and the increase in smaller archives from projects initiated in the commercial sector has necessitated the need for rapid application of the policy and access to estimates for those tendering for work. This has been achieved through the use of the ADS-easy Costing Calculator. Effectively depositions are divided in to two categories ‘well understood and mostly uniform’ – where the Costing Calculator can be used and variable types – where a bespoke costing is needed. These are summarised in the table below.

5.1. Costing Calculator

Archives suitable for the costing calculator are those predominantly comprising well established file formats or types (for example images, documents, simple tabulated data in spreadsheets), whose treatment at ingest is routine and where migration pathways and associated costs are well understood. In addition, due to the current constraints of bandwidth on the upload of large archives, the number of files is limited (not totalling more than 300 files, or files c.100MB or more). The charging policy for this type of archive is applied according to a pre-set formulae, with a flat fee for ingest and dissemination. The latter is reduced in instances where the submission of data is via ADS-easy, which semi-automates the ingest process.

5.2. Bespoke Costing

Archives comprising less well-known file formats and types, those with more than 300 files or with larger file sizes (c.100Mb or more) require a bespoke costing. The charging policy for these more complex archives is applied according to the individual needs of the project and estimates are provided by the Collections Development Manager. Bespoke costings are also required for any projects that require a ‘special’ interface such as query or map functionality.

The decision on the suitable cost measure for an archive is taken on case-by-case basis, but in many instances depositors can self-categorise as they are guided through the costing calculator.

Costing CalculatorBespoke Costing
File types / technologiesWell-knownComplex or newer technologies (laser scanning, photogrammetry, 3D, Audio-visual etc.)
File numbers300 files or fewerAny number of files
File sizesSmaller individual filesAny file size
Geophysics100ha of geophysics or lessAny size of geophysics

6. Conclusion

Within the archaeological community there are well established procedures and practice for the archiving of fieldwork records in traditional media in museums and traditional archives which generally levy one-off deposit charges on new deposits. Developers have also accepted the principle of funding archiving costs for archaeological research undertaken in advance of re-development. A deposit-based charge therefore should involve a form of endowment for the archive and excludes recurrent annual charges. The ADS has extended this charging model to digital data, and anticipates that archiving costs will be passed on to the funding agency. The ADS has made every effort to ensure its cost models are realistic and are based on the current experience of the Service and other archiving organisations.

1st August 2016