Guidelines for Depositors

Version 1.4, May 2012

  1. Depositing with the ADS
  2. Creating and Documenting your Data

1. Depositing with the ADS


1.1. Why Deposit?

The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) collects, catalogues, manages, preserves, and encourages re-use of digital resources created by archaeologists. These pages describe the process of deposition and points to useful information about how to do it.

What is in the ADS collection?

The ADS will provide an archival home for any archaeological data of interest to UK archaeologists. The ADS collections' scope is thus international, although priority will be given to the archaeology of the British Isles. Where existing archival bodies work to preserve digital collections, the ADS will collaborate with these bodies to facilitate more uniform access to on-line information. The ADS will prioritise its acquisitions policy according to perceived gaps in the provision of electronic information. Accessioned data will include CAD files, databases, digital aerial photograph interpretations, excavation archives, geophysical and other survey data, GIS files, images, satellite imagery, spreadsheets, texts, VRML files, and any other digital formats relevant to archaeological research.

Data resources which are offered for deposit to the ADS will be evaluated to:

  • Assess their intellectual content and thus the level of potential interest in their re-use.
  • Assess how (even whether) they may viably be managed, preserved, and distributed to potential secondary users.
  • Assess the presence or absence of another suitable archival home.

More information about the criteria for evaluating datasets can be found in the ADS Collections Policy .

Is it more appropriate to deposit data or catalogue data?

Determining whether it is more appropriate to deposit your data with the ADS, or simply deposit a catalogue record for it within ArchSearch (info) , depends on two primary factors:

  1. Whether your data are dynamic and changing
  2. Whether your data are already being digitally archived

Dynamic and changing datasets are those that are in active use and are frequently updated. Dynamic and changing datasets are better included in the ADS catalogue than deposited for archiving unless no online access is available or they are somehow considered to be at risk. Examples of dynamic and changing datasets include Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs). If archived, dynamic and changing datasets need to be updated on a timescale agreed in advance with the ADS. Data that are 'orphaned' will be of high priority to the ADS. Thus data already being digitally archived (i.e. lodged with an organisation that takes responsibility for longterm data migration) should be catalogued rather than archived.

If you are unsure whether archiving or cataloguing is more appropriate for your dataset please contact the ADS .

Four reasons to deposit data with the ADS

  • 1. Ensuring Preservation

The best strategy for longterm preservation of archaeological data is for them to be systematically collected, maintained, and made accessible to users operating in very different computing environments. Data deposited with the ADS will be migrated through changing technology so their intellectual content will be available in the future.

Digital preservation is different from traditional archiving. Digital archiving is about preserving information regardless of the object on which that information is stored. The content, structure, and context of the information must be preserved in order for digital records to be migrated from one medium and format to the next.

Digital archiving strategies do not rely on the preservation of a single diskette, tape, or CD-ROM. The essence of digital archiving lies in four main activities: secure backing-up, data refreshment, data migration, and documentation.

Backing-up is the act of making duplicate copies of digital data and storing these copies in a secure environment.

Data refreshment is the act of copying information from one medium to the next as the original medium nears the end of its reliable lifespan.

Migration is the act of copying digital information from one format or structure into another.

Documentation . No digital archivist can successfully preserve data that are not fully documented, because at every step of data migration information can be lost. This leaves archivists with two options: migrating data from one format and then double-checking each entry manually or requiring thorough documentation of the data at the time of archiving so migrations can be carefully planned and tested in advance.

  • 2. Providing Access

Letting others have access to your data is important as it facilitates communication within archaeology. Also, sharing your data actually helps in its preservation; the more formats a dataset is copied into, the greater the chance of it surviving.

  • 3. Professional Recognition

Depositors will receive recognition and citation for their datasets as they are incorporated into future archaeological research and teaching.

  • 4. Meeting Funding Agency Requirements

If you have received a research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy , the Carnegie trust, the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Leverhulme Trust , the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), or the Wellcome Trust's History of Medicine Programme you are either required or recommended to offer relevant data for deposit with the ADS.
When to contact the ADS about archiving your dataset

As soon as possible. How you create and document a digital resource will affect how, and even if, it may be preserved and re-used. By contacting the ADS you can gain professional advice and guidance to help you maximise your data-creation efforts and design your recording systems. The ADS also has tools and training available which may help you.

Intellectual property rights and copyright

Depositors are asked to specify that the ADS may have a non-exclusive license to distribute their datasets. In the interest of archaeological research, the ADS encourages depositors to make their data available to the broadest possible spectrum of archaeologists.

Does the ADS accept commercial datasets for deposit?

Yes, but cataloguing information about these datasets must be freely accessible to all.

What will deposit with the ADS cost?

Usage of ADS resources will continue to be supported free of charge, but specific classes of depositors will be subject to the charging policy .

1.2. How to Deposit


The process

Potential depositors should contact the ADS for information about depositing. ADS staff are available to consult with potential depositors by e-mail or telephone during office hours (9-5 Monday to Friday). Other resources for the use of potential depositors include a series of Guides to Good Practice as well as a Preparation of files for deposit with the ADS ( PDF (info) ) sheet summarising the information in these guidelines. ADS guides include archiving digital aerial photography interpretations, excavation and fieldwork data, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geophysics data.
Datasets offered for deposit should be accompanied by a signed deposit licence and the relevant metadata and documentation; these are detailed in the following pages within this section.

Once accepted, datasets will be scheduled for accessioning. Accessioning procedures will be standardised and include data validation, cataloguing, and mounting. The complexity of the dataset will determine how long accessioning takes, but it is our goal to complete this process in an average of 3-6 months of receipt of the final dataset. If there is a special reason for needing datasets accessioned more quickly, please contact the ADS in advance to discuss your requirements.

Preferred delivery method and conditions

Data can be accepted on CD-ROM or DVD or over email. Other delivery methods can be accommodated, please contact us for details.

We prefer data not to be encoded, but we can accept UUENCODED files.

If data is compressed, we prefer the following formats: GNU (.gz), Pkzip, Stuffit, TAR, Unix compressed files (.Z), Zip.

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