Category Archives: Audience and Usage

Persistence in Preservation and Publication of Data

To recognise the effort that authors make in order to deposit digital data and to get academic credit for that effort, Internet Archaeology (IA) and the ADS have established an open access data paper series. ‘Data papers’ maximise a dataset’s re-use potential and help to improve the preservation and the publication of data and are a valuable addition to the advancement of archaeological research. However IA and ADS have now taken the concept a little further.

In order to identify the content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet, each data paper in IA and the corresponding archive in ADS are assigned unique DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers, issued via CrossRef and DataCite). The introduction of these unique digital identifiers has been a major advancement for persistence in data preservation, publication and citation, but our approach has been to extend them to a more granular level. While an ADS dataset is assigned a ‘top level’ DOI, additional identifiers to specific sections of the data area have also been allocated. This enhances the archive not just by enabling direct access to a subset of data but also allows those sub-sections, often authored by specialist researchers, to be citable in their own right and gives recognition to the individuals who undertook the work e.g. see Richards & Roskams (2013) archive: where the Geophysical Survey, the Field-walking Survey and Animal Bone reports all have their own DOI. There is no limit to the granulation possible and we envisage usage right down to individual digital objects, such as a photograph or a GIS shapefile, when their importance to a hypothesis is apparent. Such use of DOIs will greatly benefit archaeological research, providing greater transparency in archaeological reporting and improving research efficiency.

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The Internet Archaeology of the ADS

While rationalising old and orphaned files on the ADS servers, I stumbled upon an old index.html file for a previous version of the website.  Similar to discovering a long forgotten photograph in the attic, this led me down the meandering path of memory lane.  However unlike a photograph, reconstructing the look and feel of a web page requires some fiddling to correctly associate the style sheets and any server side includes.  After a few cut and paste commands replacing server side includes with actual HTML and a directory search for the missing stylesheet, the old homepage was back up again in all of its glory.

ADS homepage c. 2008.

Even though I spent my first four years at ADS using this homepage it looked totally foreign to me.  The structure was confused, the javascript unnecessary and the style was uninspired.  The page was functional, but left a lot to be desired compared to the structure and clarity of the present version. The backend framework and systems that make up the current website also make it manageable and easy to update, compared to the organic, disjointed structure of the previous website which led to headache inducing updates as seemingly insignificant modifications led to unanticipated bugs (or features depending on your preferred coping mechanism).
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HERALD: a new beginning for OASIS

We all know that the historic environment sector has undergone a great degree of upheaval over the last few years as a result of the recession-busting
moves by both central and local government and, perhaps even more importantly,
the slump in building activity. At the same time colleagues in the sector are coming to rely more and more on technological solutions to help provide a high quality archaeological information to the public. It is therefore heartening to be able to announce an investment by English Heritage in OASIS to consider a project to redevelop the system to better meet the needs of the historic environment community it endeavours to serve.
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Buckets of Anglo-Saxon Data

With the release last year of two more Anglo-Saxon archives, ‘A Corpus of Early Anglo-Saxon Buckets’ and ‘Anglo-Saxon Grave Goods of the 6th and 7th Centuries AD: A Chronological Framework’, it seems like a good time to highlight this growing theme in our archives. We now hold a mass of Anglo-Saxon collections; six classification or typological collections; four site based archives; and three large area studies of Anglo-Saxon activity in Staffordshire and Kent. We also archive the ‘Novum Inventorium Sepulchrale – Kentish Anglo-Saxon graves and grave-goods’ in the Sonia Hawkes archive which is currently available online from Oxford University.

Buckle from the Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods Archive © English Heritage.

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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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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.

ADS wins DPC Decennial Award

As part of its tenth anniversary celebrations, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) awarded its Decennial Award, for an outstanding contribution to digital preservation, to the Archaeology Data Service.

We beat off intense competition from Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the International Internet Preservation Consortium, to take the award at a ceremony at the Wellcome Collection in London on December the 3rd.

The Decennial Prize – the DPC’s most prestigious – is awarded specially to mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of the DPC. It recognises the most outstanding work over the decade that the DPC has existed. After a painstaking assessment, an expert panel selected finalists from New York, Washington and London as well as York.

The ADS recieve the DPC Decennial Award
The ADS recieve the DPC Decennial Award

Our Director, Professor Julian Richards who accepted the award from Dame Lynne Brindley, said: “Winning this award is an outstanding achievement for the ADS and it is extremely gratifying to have the last decade’s effort and hard work recognised by our peers. The ADS was up against some stiff competition to win this first decennial award, so we are particularly thrilled to have received this tremendous accolade.”

William Kilbride, Executive Director of the DPC said: “These awards are important in showcasing the creative solutions that have been developed towards digital preservation. Digital preservation is critical. We know that significant parts of the economy, industry, research, government and the public life depend on the opportunities information technology creates, but the rapid churn in technology means data is also surprisingly fragile. We are the first generation that’s had to think about handing on a digital legacy, so we need to act quickly to develop the skills and techniques that will ensure our legacy is protected.”

In July, ADS also received the British Archaeological Award for Best Archaeological Innovation of 2012 in recognition of technical innovations it developed which allowed thousands of hitherto unpublished fieldwork reports to be made freely available online to any user.

DPC Decadal Award Nomination: ADS short listed amongst esteemed company.

The announcement of the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) awards shortlist is always greeted with some excitement the digital community, but this year’s list was particularly well received here as the ADS due to our short listing in the ‘outstanding contribution to digital preservation in the last decade’ category. To be listed in such esteemed company as the International Internet Preservation Consortium, The PREMIS Metadata Working Group and The National Archives is an honour which reflects the hard work being carried out here at the ADS over the last 15 years. At the same time the nomination of subject specific data centre, the only one listed in the 2012 list, should be considered a tribute to the forward thinking attitude in archaeology and heritage management generally which places the discipline at the forefront on digital technology.

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PDF, or PDF/A: that is the question

The Portable Document Format (PDF) remains the most popular and de facto format for the sharing of printable documents across the web. As such the PDF has become deeply embedded within personal, institutional and governmental workflows since its inception in 1993; indeed its pervasiveness is highlighted by the 100,000 or so PDFs within the ADS’ collections, making it by far our most common file type. As a result we thought it might be useful to provide some insight into the PDF, and its archival equivalent PDF/A, so that you can benefit from our (very!) long discussions and sleepless nights.
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Migrating Data: The Council for British Archaeology Research Reports

At the Archaeology Data Service we know that in order to keep files safe and accessible long into the future, we need to migrate or refresh them. This will create newer versions of the files to replace the old files which would one day be unreadable by modern software. To this end, we are currently working on one of the very first large collections that was entrusted to us back in the early days of the ADS. This collection is an archive of Council for British Archaeology (CBA) Research Reports. This run of reports dating back to 1955 were no longer in print so were scanned and given to us in digital form (as tif images and pdf files) to archive and make more widely available on-line. The collection in our care consists of over 100 reports which cover many different topics and themes within British Archaeology. This has remained one of our most popular and frequently accessed resources since we began making it available on-line in the year 2000.
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