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Storage and access to dark archive

All items available in the Research Collection are saved unchanged and stored long-term in the ETH Data Archive. This includes both "metadata only" items as well as items with full text or other digital objects.


Data that enters the ETH Data Archive from the Research Collection is only accessible there for library staff members.

Usability over the long term

Where possible, the usability of data available in a standard file format is guaranteed for the long term. To what extent ETH Library can guarantee the readability and understandability of publications and datasets in the Research Collection over the long-term depends on

Preservation levels

Preservation level 3

For items that are deposited in a recommended file format and for which submitters achieve a high compliance with all additional requirements for long-term usability, such as extensive and understandable metadata, ETH Library will

  • save the items according to the chosen retention period
  • review the archived file formats annually
  • convert outdated formats if an applicable current target format with a better perspective for preservation can be identified and thereby ensure the continued readability of the files
  • guarantee "understandability" over the long-term insofar as the submitter has provided a high-quality ReadMe and/or extensive metadata with their dataset

Preservation level 2

For items that are deposited in a recommended file format, but for which the additional requirements for long-term usability are not or only partially fullfilled, for example because they do not provide enough descriptive metadata, ETH Library will


For these objects, ETH Library cannot guarantee "understandability" over the long-term since they might be missing essential descriptions or metadata necessary for an end user to make sense of the content.

Preservation level 1

For items that are deposited in a file format not suitable for archiving or suitable only to a limited extent, ETH Library will


For these objects, ETH Library can neither guarantee continued readability nor understandability over the long term.

Preservation level 0

For items that are deposited in libdrive, ETH Library cannot currently provide any preservation services. If long-term storage of important data is desired, it is the responsibility of the research groups to find a solution for this. The Research Data Management and Digital Curatoin group of ETH Library offers advice on this topic, and the respective IT support (ISG or ID Services for Departments) arranges access to the corresponding storage facilities of the IT Services (including free long-term storage).


The following table gives an overview of the four preservation levels: