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Model Curation

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Written by Donna H. Rhodes, Ph.D. (
Submitted November, 19, 2018

Concise Definition

Model Curation is the lifecycle management, control, preservation and active enhancement of models and associated information to ensure value for current and future use, as well as repurposing beyond initial purpose and context. [1]


Model Curation is the lifecycle management, control, preservation and active enhancement of models and associated information to ensure value for current and future use, as well as repurposing beyond initial purpose and context. Curation activities include model identification, acquisition, accession, composition, evaluation, valuation, presentation, preservation, and archiving. Curation practices promote formalism and provide for the management and control of models and associated digital artifacts, particularly when managed as a collection, at the program and/or enterprise levels. Data associated with a model includes model technical data, model metadata, and model pedigree.


The need for model curation in digital engineering stems from the significant increase in models and associated information (libraries of data, techniques, etc.). As engineering practice becomes increasingly model-centric, models are valuable assets for designing and evolving systems, continuing to exist throughout the lifespan of a program, making the management and control of models and digital artifacts imperative. Maturing an approach for model curation in the systems engineering field can leverage work of other curation practices in other fields [2]. As in the case of digital curation [3], active management and enhancement is essential to model curation, distinguishing this from other fields of curation that focus on collecting and storing data and information. This is because models in digital engineering enterprises may be reused and repurposed beyond their original context and use. The lack of access to models, mistrust of models, and perception of legitimacy of models are all barriers in model reuse and longevity, which can be mitigated by model curation. Model curation provides formalism to ensure both technical and non-technical data and information concerning a model is created and maintained, including model metadata and model pedigree. As evidenced by curation practice in institutional collections (e.g., museum, historical society), dedicated leadership and support roles are needed to carry out curation processes. With digital engineering transformation, model curation can be expected to involve unique responsibilities at the program level and the enterprise level, leading to a new role of model curator.

Common usage

  • DoD organizations will develop formal plans for model creation, curation, integration, and related program and enterprise engineering activities throughout the lifecycle [4]
  • Model curation involves using formal practices (e.g., model accession) and specialized competencies (e.g., model composition).
  • A benefit of model curation is that it increases the potential for effective reuse of a model on a future program, as the model and associated information (metadata, technical data, and pedigree) will be available to assess its fitness for purpose and context.


Model curation may be performed at the program level, as well as the enterprise level. Model accession is a key practice that differentiates model curation from model management, involving a formal process for accepting and recording a model as a collection object in a program or enterprise level model portfolio.

Similar concepts and definitions

Digital Curation , according to the Digital Curation Centre in the UK, is described as follows:

  • “Digital curation involves maintaining, preserving and adding value to digital research data throughout its lifecycle. The active management of research data reduces threats to their long-term research value and mitigates the risk of digital obsolescence.”

Data Curation , as stated by the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science, is:

  • “… the active and ongoing management of data through its life cycle of interest and usefulness to scholarship, science, and education. Data curation activities enable data discovery and retrieval, maintain its quality, add value, and provide for reuse over time, and this new field includes authentication, archiving, management, preservation, retrieval, and representation.”


  1. Model Accession: The formal process of accepting and recording a model as a collection object in the enterprise level model portfolio. Accessioning addresses the legal, IP and ethical issues in model acquisition and development [1].
  2. Model Curator: A designated professional role entrusted with the ownership, tracking and use of model collection objects, and possessing designated authorities for managing and controlling models [1].
  3. Model Metadata: Descriptive metadata is contextual data about the model object(s). Metadata documents characteristics and used for indexing, discovering, identification. It provides user discovery of, access to, and management of an object [1].
  4. Model Pedigree: Model-associated information that describes model origin, development process, originators and developers, assumptions, expert knowledge, model enhancements, investment costs, versions, change history, etc. [1]
  5. Data Pedigree: A record of traceability from the data's source through all aspects of its transmission, storage, and processing to its final form used in the development of an M&S. [5]


[1] Rhodes D.H., Interactive Model-Centric Systems Engineering Technical Report, Phase 5. SERC-2018-TR 104, Feb 28, 2018

[2] Reymondet, L., Rhodes, D.H. & Ross, A.M. Considerations for Model Curation in Model-Centric Systems Engineering. 10th Annual IEEE Systems Conference. Orlando, FL, April 2016

[3] National Academy of Science. Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation. National Academies Press. 2015

[4] Department of Defense. Digital Engineering Strategy. June 2018 . [accessed 18 Nov 2018]

[5] NASA, NASA-STD-7009A w/CHANGE 1, Standards for Models and Simulations, Dec 17, 2016, [accessed 18 Nov 2018]

mbse/curating_digital_artifacts.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/26 15:19 by jcoleman