Sustainability planning

An important milestone was reached when the Dryad organization officially recently adopted a cost recovery plan to ensure Dryad’s sustainability.  The plan was the result of several years of deliberation among Dryad’s Interim Partners, experts in sustainability, and many prospective Member organizations.

The plan identifies three primary funding sources. First are deposit fees, and there are several ways in which they may be paid:

  • A journal or publisher may agree to pay an annual fee based on the number of articles it publishes annually, in anticipation that a substantial fraction will have data deposited in Dryad.
  • An organization (typically, but not necessarily, a journal or publisher) may pay a fixed fee per data deposited. Vouchers may be purchased for bulk purchases in advance, or organizations may be regularly billed after deposits are received.
  • If the fee is not paid through the journal, society, publisher, or other organization, authors may pay the deposit fee at the time of deposit.

The deposit fee will vary among these options depending on transaction costs. It is expected that a Member-discounted prepaid voucher will cost approximately $50 USD.  Members will be entitled to receive a 10% discount.

The rationale for deposit-fees is several-fold.  First, collecting revenue upfront allows Dryad to make the data freely available to users and ensure that preservation costs will not be lacking down the road.  With a repository of sufficient size, most non-fixed costs are due to new deposits, and are incurred at the time of deposit.  Charging deposit fees ensures that revenues will scale with expenses and that funds are available to the repository when they are needed.  Furthermore, there are many different parties making deposits, and the number of deposits from different journals, institutions, investigators, etc., varies widely. Deposit fees have the virtue of distributing the costs among the many parties so that the amount required by each party is relatively small and varies in proportion to usage.

Another source of revenue will be annual membership fees, expected to be $1000 USD annually, which will confer voting rights, discounted deposit fees, participation in Annual Meetings, and other benefits.

Deposit fees and membership fees are intended to cover the operating costs of the repository. The third revenue source, funding from grants and charitable organizations, will be used for research, development, and new initiatives.  It is expected that this plan will be implemented in parallel with an endowment campaign, which may be used to reduce deposit fees, invest in new technologies, and help assure long-term sustainability. More details about the plan are available at http://wiki.datadryad.org/Business_Plan_and_Sustainability.

NSF provides further support to Dryad

Scaling up. Courtesy of Swamibu via flickr, CC-BY-NC

The US National Science Foundation, through its Advances in Biological Informatics program, has announced a new award of $2.4M over four years to Duke University (NESCent), the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (Metadata Research Center), and North Carolina State University (Digital Library).

The award will enable Dryad to scale up its technical infrastructure to support the rapidly expanding user base of journals and researchers, ensure that the repository is meeting the needs of that user base, and to complete the transition to a financially independent non-profit organization.

This is one of a new breed of Development Awards being made by ABI, in which the review criteria judge the ability of the project to produce “robust, broadly-adopted cyberinfrastructure” with an emphasis on “user engagement, design quality, engineering practices, management plan, and dissemination”.

Repositories such as Dryad enable researchers to comply with funding agency expectations for long-term data preservation and availability, and we are grateful to NSF for its continuing support of this mission.