Cost Model for Digital Archiving (CMDA)

Property Description
ID 5
Creator and Funding Developed by Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) of the Netherlands
Status The project creating CMDA has ended.
Purpose Estimate costs in order to assist management in acheiving economic sustainability for data archiving.
Information assets Research datasets from social sciences, humanities and archaeology.
Activities Ingest, Archival Storage, Preservation Planning, Data Management, Administration.
Resources Capital (office, minimal IT equipment) labour (general, archivists, ICTa, ICTb). 
Time Past, Present 
Variables Number of files, metadata quality, complexity, type of personnel, quality standards applied. 
Type of tool Accounting, analysis.
Availability of tools None. There is a description of the model at the webpage of DANS:
References Palaiologk, A. S., Economides, A. A., Tjalsma, H. D., & Sesink, L. B. (2012): “An activity-based costing model for long-term preservation and dissemination of digital research data: the case of DANS” in International Journal on Digital Libraries, 12(4), 195–214. doi:10.1007/s00799-012-0092-1:


 The model is an activity-based costing model for long-term preservation and dissemination of digital research data sets. Its purpose is to assist the management in achieving economic sustainability for data archiving.

The project behind CMDA started with a narrowly scoped problem focusing on creating and testing a model which would estimate the costs of research datasets preserved by a trusted digital repository. In the process, the scope of the project expanded into looking for a way to express the true value of the organisation to its stakeholders.

The CMDA model is based on the OAIS Reference Model. It identifies activities and a set of costing components of each activity. These are:

  • Activities
  • resource pools
  • resource cost drivers
  • activity cost drivers, and
  • cost objects
  • Supporters
  • Internal Processes
  • Customers
  • Innovation and Growth

The model also uses a matrix for raking complexity of datasets to take the influence of varying data complexity into account when estimating costs.

Based on these factors the model estimates costs per dataset. Costs are expressed as monetary costs specified for datasets in the unit ‘euros per dataset’.

The model is developed based on DANS’s curation of 14,000 datasets with a total size of 1.5 TB and 10 other datasets with a total size of 20TB. The data sets for archaeology are much more costly than social sciences or humanity due to more variety and complexity in data formats (databases, images, geodata, cad and so on). The activities “preservation” and “development of the archival system” are the most cost intensive.

CMDA uses a balanced scorecard (BSC) which was designed as a management system that enables organizations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. It also acts as a measurement system and communication tool.

The BSC has been divided into four perspectives:

The tool also defines Success Factors which describe the strategic objectives of the organisation. They are described further by a set of Performance Indicators which are an indication of how it shall be known that the outcome has come to pass. Success Factors and Performance Indicators can be used to connect measured benefits to activities and costs.

The model’s activities and cost drivers assume that the organisation has the 'philosophy of a trusted digital repository (TDR) compliant with the 16 guidelines listed in the Data Seal of Approval (DSA)'. As such, the model would likely work quite well for other TDRs and also for other types of repositories.