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University Information Services

What archiving is and the options for different types of information

Archives are 'collections of documents or ‘records’ which have been selected for permanent preservation because of their value as evidence or as a source for historical or other 'research'. This definition comes from the UK National Archives' introduction for non-archivists.

Archives also extend to digital content and publically accessible websites.

There are different processes and requirements for archiving different types of information. Not all records are archived at the end of their lifecycle. Those that are retained must have consistent and meaningful metadata in order to be useful and retrievable. 

Digital curation requires consistent metadata to manage the information effectively throughout its lifecycle, including preserving it in an archive. The Digital Curation Centre provides an introduction, written for those conducting and supporting research but the concepts apply to other areas too: What is digital curation? 

In the University, different lifecycles apply to different types of information, including how they might be archived.


Types of information

Internal administrative content 

The University’s official archives of internal, administrative information are held in the University Library. The Archives provides guidance on the kinds of records suitable for long-term preservation and contact details for discussing potential transfers. 

Read the University Archives’ guidance  

The University’s governance publication, the Reporter, publishes definitive versions of important governance information and is retained as standard procedure. Use the search function to find whether something was included, in which case you may no longer need to retain local copies. 

The Reporter 


Funders increasingly have requirements around data retention for work they fund. Specific guidance for the preservation of research data is available from the University’s Research Data team.

Visit the research data management website 

Research publications, such as papers or reports, may suitable for the University's repository, Apollo.

Guidance about Apollo

Educational course information 

Some course information must remain publicly available for reference, including for discontinued programmes. Programme specification information is published on, coordinated by the Educational Quality and Policy Office. 

If you cannot determine how this is handled for a course you support, contact your programme’s liaison officer in the Educational Quality and Policy Office. 

Find your liaision officer 

Publicly accessible websites 

Websites that are no longer updated continue to require technical updates to keep them available and secure. Archiving a site means that the content remains available, but it no longer needs technical maintenance. 

The UK internet archive is a collaborative project between the six UK legal deposit libraries, which include Cambridge’s University Library. It exists to preserve the UK’s digital heritage. 

Some subdomains already exist in its records. If your website has not been crawled, you can nominate a website.  

Check the UK internet archive for your site 


Get support

Sign up to join the Content Community, the network for content creators across the University. The Content Community run regular training events to help you improve your content.