SENESCHAL Vocabularies: Implementation

With the SENESCHAL project finally wrapped up, we thought it would be good to do a final post on how we implemented the SENESCHAL vocabularies into our systems.  This follows on from my previous post, SENESCHAL Vocabularies: value to the ADS, which gives more background into the project in general. That post also lays out the original vision and a mock-up for the integration of the SENESCHAL vocabularies into our Collections Management System (CMS), which we can now safely say has been fully realised.

CMS

The CMS integration was the primary objective for the ADS within the SENESCHAL project, as it would have the biggest and most immediate impact.  We wanted a simple way to accurately align our archive metadata to the official vocabularies used within Britain.  This not only helps us manage our archives better, it also ensures our users can discover our archives in a more consistent and accurate manner.  Before the SENESCHAL project, our “alignment” with the Monuments Thesaurus was done via a free text field.  Even with the extreme fastidiousness of our digital archivists, errors had the potential to creep in.  Entering data this way also uncoupled the term from its related concepts and hierarchy when recorded within our CMS.  This could be recreated, but the onus was put on the user (us in most cases, but also the users of the archive) of the data to manually “realign” the term.

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Work Experience at ADS

Over the last months of 2013 the ADS was extremely pleased to have hosted Maiju Pohjola, a data management and archiving student, from the National Archives of Finland for a two month work experience placement.  Here is what Maiju had to say about her time at ADS.

The placement at ADS was a dream come true. As an archaeologist having previously studied at Newcastle University, I was familiar with the excellent work of the ADS, and as a current data management and archiving student in Finland,  i wanted wanted to increase my skills in the field of digital archiving. A placement at the ADS was an ideal way to combine this ambition with my archaeological skills and gave me the opportunity to see how these two fields can be combined together to provide a free service for researchers and the general public.

I enjoyed every minute of my experience. First of all I want to thank the staff for giving me a chance to learn about digital archiving in the field of archaeology. What impressed me most was how well  organized the ADS is and how the staff manage to do all the work that is needed to provide such a great resource for archaeological researchers and contractors.
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LoCloud Picking Up Steam!

The LoCloud project has been up and running for about six months now, and we’ve just finished a productive and enjoyable plenary meeting in London. The project is starting to take shape, with an ambitious agenda for content to be delivered to Europeana, along with an array of microservices under development, geared towards the needs of small to medium sized heritage organisations.

Each of the partners whose role in the project is national aggregator for their country, have now submitted their action plans. These aggregators have been responsible for identifying small to medium sized heritage organisations who may wish to make their digital holdings discoverable within Europeana. While many LoCloud partners will be focussed on museums, as the national aggragator for the UK, ADS will focus on the Historic Environment Records (HERs) and Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs), as it is a sector we know well. In addition, museums in the UK are being well served by the Europeana Inside project, led by the Collections Trust.

The microservices under development include tools for geolocation enrichment, metadata enrichment, alignment to controlled vocabularies in a variety of languages, work with historic place names, and the exploration of content aggregation though Wikimedia and crowd sourcing. The service gaining the most attention however, is the Lightweight Digital Library (LDL), primarily under development by the Poznań Supercomputing and Network Center (PSNC) in Poland. The LDL is meant to address the needs of smaller organisations, which typically lack internal IT support. It is meant to be an affordable and easy to use solution, allowing easy integration with the LoCloud infrastructure. An initial version is planned for release in July of 2014, with the final version due to be completed the following December.

Now that the planning is largely complete for LoCloud, the hard work really begins! Over the next year, the creation of the microservices will start in earnest, along with training for the national aggregators on using the core tools for mapping and enrichment of metadata, in preparation for making it discoverable within Europeana. Watch this space!

LoCloud partners at the pub!

In proper London fashion, the LoCloud partners head to the pub for a good pint and a packet of crisps after the close of the plenary!

Topping Up your Credit (or how you can learn to stop worrying and love your data)

“Data that is loved tends to survive” (Kurt Bollacker, Data Scientist)

We all want better ways to make research data available and to give more credit to the researchers who create and share their data. Yet even when that hard work culminates in data being deposited in an accredited archive, the level of recognition and academic credit gained is still limited.

In an attempt to redress this, Internet Archaeology has established a series of peer-reviewed, open access ‘data papers’ where authors characterize the content and the re-use potential of a dataset they have deposited in one of a number of trusted digital archives (e.g. ADS, but also tDAR and Open Context in the USA for example) and describe it in a way that promotes data sharing and reuse.  After all, data generated in the course of archaeological research are just as valuable as the content of journal papers or monographs.
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Data Seal of Approval: we’ve still got it!

Avid followers of the progress of the ADS recall that in early 2011 we were thrilled to be awarded the internationally recognised Data Seal of Approval (DSA); at the time only the second digital archive in the UK to receive the award, after the mighty UK Data Archive in Essex. What you may not know is that in order to retain the award you have to re-apply periodically. It’s a bit like keeping an MOT up to date to make sure a car is road worthy. So until we have our own Ministry of Archives (MOA) test we’ll use the DSA to make sure we remain archive worthy!

As you may imagine the renewal was certainly easier than the initial application and much remained the same. We, in essence, use the same procedures and policies now as we did two years ago although these are reviewed on an annual basis. So what has changed? We were able to include in our renewal application a number of enhancements to both our public interfaces and our back-room procedures. Enhancements for users have included the addition of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to each of our collections for greater clarity when finding and citing datasets; the completion of the new editions of the online Guide to Good Practice series; and the establishment of digital licences for depositors. Behind the scenes we have redeveloped elements of our Collections Management System to accommodate file level metadata and implemented the use of DROID, a file profiling tool developed by the National Archive.

We’re really pleased that the progress we have made over the last two years has been recognised and are proud to have had our accreditation renewed.

See our Data Seal of Approval here

Exposing the ADS… to Google

An online presence is just the tip of the ADS iceberg, but as such we still rely on search engines to direct traffic to our archived datasets and web content. Search engines are not the only way people find their way to the ADS, as we provide metadata to many aggregators and portals via OAI-PMH and SOAP web services such as the Heritage GatewayEuropeana, Thomson Reuters Data Citation IndexKeepers Registry, NERC Data Catalogue Service, and MEDIN Data Discovery Portal to name a few. Even with all of those outlets to discover ADS content, a fair share of users still come via a good ol’ Google type-and-pray search.  We are referrer agnostic at the ADS, and don’t really care how people discover our resources… so long as it doesn’t circumvent our Terms & Conditions (T&C’s).

A side note on the the ADS T&C’s, they were drafted in the early days of the web, well before the advent of the Creative Commons or other similar licencing models, and were designed to credit the creators of the data while protecting their intellectual property from uncompensated resale. It doesn’t cost anything to access or use data from the ADS as long as you agree to the ADS T&C’s, which is usually done by clicking an “Agree” button when accessing data for the first time. While at times mildly annoying, we are all lucky that the original proposal from the AHDS lawyers (requiring a signed letter from each user wanting to access ADS data…… really!) was dismissed and the infinitely more convenient click-agreement prevailed. Ultimately our T&C’s were borne out of a belief in Open Access, which has been a core tenet of the ADS philosophy since its beginnings in 1996.

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The Value and Impact of the Archaeology Data Service: Final Report

The final report of the coequally known ‘ADS IMPACT project’, reported upon previously in this blog, is now available to download from the Jisc website. 

The Value and Impact of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS): a study and methods for enhancing sustainability was commissioned by Jisc as part of a larger study into the the value and impact of three data centres (ADS, BADC and ESDS). These assessments were undertake by Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd and Professor John Houghton of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) and a synthesis report will be available from Jisc in the near future.

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Take part in the ARIADNE Stakeholder Survey and win an iPad

ADS and the ARIADNE project consortium kindly ask you to participate in an online-survey about data access in archaeological research. With your support, we will be able to bring archaeological information systems a step forward.

The survey is aimed at:

  • researchers in archaeology
  • directors of archaeological research institutes
  • managers of digital data repositories

The survey explores user requirements, current practices, and gaps with regard to the access to research data in archaeology. Answering the questionnaire will approximately take 20 minutes. The questionnaire is available at: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1405631/ARIADNE-Stakeholder-Survey
The survey will run until 31st December 2013.

Participate and win an iPad: With a bit of luck, you can win one of two iPads (or other tablet computers – depending on the winner’s choice), which will be raffled off among all the survey respondents.

Feel free to forward this information to colleagues in your research institute who are also welcome to participate in the survey.

Three New Yorkshire Archives

ADS is pleased to announce the release of three new digital archives exploring the history of settlement in Yorkshire, carried out under the auspices of the University of York.

The first, ‘Burdale: an Anglian settlement in the Yorkshire Wolds‘ by Julian Richards and Steve Roskams, comprises a broad range of primary and secondary data derived from fieldwork and post-excavation analysis of the site.The aims of the projects were to:

  • establish the depth, extent and survival of archaeological deposits
  • explore the nature of sedimentation
  • identify the extent of the 8th and 9th century activity
  • establish the relationship of the metalwork finds and the features
  • collect environmental & artefactual samples
  • determine the nature of activity on site
  • help protect the site from illegal metal-detecting

The release of this archive coincides with the release of a Data Paper on the data set in our sister service Internet Archaeology. This Data paper highlight the reuse potential of the archive.

The second and third new digital archives are related to fieldwork undertaken within the parish of Cottam. Continue reading

Open Access Week at ADS and Internet Archaeology

ADS and Internet Archaeology have been taking part in Open Access Week. Open Access Week is an international event now where the academic and research community can  to help inspire wider participation in Open Access by sharing information, events and ideas.

What Is Open Access?

“Open Access” to information  is the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need.

In celebration of Open Access Week ADS has been releasing a new archive every day! And Internet Archaeology has gone totally open access for the week!

ADS and Internet Archaeology have also been participating by publishing the following blog posts on the Open Access Week website advertising our Open Access content and initiatives.