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The interviews

Between December 2011 and March 2012 we conducted interviews with 20 academics from PhD students to Professors across 10 departments of the University.  We are very grateful to all the interviewees for their time and constructive input to the project.

The key areas we wanted to focus on were:

  • What do people know about digital preservation?
  • Are people already preserving digital material?
  • Would they like more help and if so, in what format?

Early in the project we decided to carry out face-to-face interviews rather than using an online questionnaire.  Although interviews would make analysis more complex, we felt they would give context and help gauge the interviewees’ level of knowledge more accurately than relying on self-assessment.

All interviewees were happy to be audio-recorded and the interviews (which varied in length from 22 to 72 minutes) were transcribed by an audio typist.

A key feature of this research was that the team was as interested in gaps in interviewees’ answers as much as in their stated preferences. So an interviewee may say that they have everything sorted and do not need any training or support – while the same person’s response to the questions on digital preservation may have revealed some lack of understanding.

However, the main lack of understanding was this particular interviewer’s – of the work the interviewees are engaged in – and in the geography of Cambridge…  I learned a huge amount and am extremely grateful to everyone for their patience.

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