Data and documentation submitted on a data carrier are copied from their original storage medium and converted into a format suitable for long term preservation.

The archive creates an Archival Information Package (Archival Information Package, AIP) containing the original objects plus further data and information, e.g. versions of data and documentation processed by the archive or (annotated) syntax files which establish relationships between original and archival versions. In some cases variable level metadata on is created.

Additional documents like questionnaires or correspondence are saved in a separate folder. Documents submitted in printed form are scanned and saved digitally. Adjusted data and data that have been altered will also be documented and saved.

For data re-use, a Dissemination Information Package (Dissemination Information Package, DIP) is compiled including additionally objects. These packages are made available to the users by different services.

Archived data is stored according to binding guidelines. Archiving is built around the research data life-cycle.

The GESIS archive is subject to restrictive access rights, which means only authorized personnel are able to transfer objects into the archive for long-term preservation or out to delete them.

The archive system has a file based structure. Files are stored in defined directories and labelled according to a fixed scheme. Initial files given by the depositor are stored and preserved in their original form, including original file names. This allows for expression of the technical and logical relationships between preservation and dissemination objects.

Besides organizational and technical activities based on a modern, powerful IT infrastructure, the archive applies measures to ensure physical security of objects and guarantee their quick restoration in the case of a devastating event. Part of these measures are physical storage of the data, undergoing regular backups, employing redundant storage in different sites, safe-keeping on different storage media, and migration to new media and file formats.