Would you like to know what the new OASIS system will do?

The structure of the new OASIS system
The structure of the new OASIS system

We’re in the process of writing the project design for Stage 2 of the HERALD project – the redevelopment of the form. The actual redevelopment will start next year (if funded by Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland). The draft project design was shown to the OASIS Management Board yesterday (we meet twice a year) and it was agreed to circulate it more widely to see if there was comment on how we have tried to represent  the opinions and information gathered during the user needs survey and interviews which were Stage 1 of the project. The requirements identified in Stage 1 were many and varied and so we have tried to make the new OASIS system more flexible so it will meet more people’s needs.

The headlines of possible changes include:

  • BIAB and the Grey Literature Library will be combined with other bibliographic and textual resources from the ADS and made into the ADS Library
  • Museums will be included in the OASIS workflow and will be able to download information about the archive details from OASIS
  • HERs will be able to start records in OASIS from their HER software (with the necessary technical enhancements) and contractors will then be able to add to these stem-records. This is only if the HER prefers this workflow and it removes duplication of effort.
  • And many more… read the draft project design for the full explanation of the new system

The draft project design is available in the document archive of the OASIS website and we would love to hear from anyone with comments but in order to get the project design in to Historic England during November we’re asking for comments by the 9th November 2015.


Where next for OASIS…


CC Image courtesy of Snug LePup on Flickr

Stage one of the HERALD Project: the user needs has been completed and the final report is available on the OASIS website in the document archive.

HERALD: Historic Environment Research Archives, Links and Data is the project name given to the redevelopment of the OASIS system and Stage 1 ran from January 2014 to May 2015. The project involved consulting the users from different sectors of the historic environment community using a combination of workshops,  surveys, telephone interviews to produce a number of survey reports. This then informed the design of a mock up of a new OASIS system to test potential changes in workflows and content gathered. The comments received from the community on the mock up and the survey reports went on to produce the recommendations for a new system in the final report.

Stage 2 of the project is subject to approval by Historic England but will hopefully start development next year.


Assessing voluntary group archaeology

One of the aims for the OASIS redevelopment project is to develop a system that will encourage greater engagement from the community sector. In order to do that we need to know how much and what type of work is being carried out by the volunteer and community sector.

Therefore we are particularly keen to see the result of a new Historic England commissioned project to find out how much archaeology, historic building and local history research is carried out by voluntary groups in England. The project, conducted by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, will assess the value or potential value this research has for enhancing Historic Environment Records (HERs) and Research Frameworks, which will directly impact our OASIS redesign.

The project asks local history and archaeology societies, diving groups and historic building enthusiasts to contribute to the project by completing an online survey before the 21st September. Completing the survey will help provide a better understanding of the contribution of volunteer efforts to heritage research, and to make sure that local history, historic building and archaeological research is better valued.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/community-heritage-research

We encourage all community and volunteer groups to complete the survey, and ask people not directly involved in community work to share the survey with those that are, while we look forward to seeing the results.

The survey can also be completed by post – please contact Rob Hedge on 01905 765654.

BIAB is coming…

Please help us by completing the short BIAB survey
© Historic England - Moving the Silbury Hill Shed
© Historic England – Moving the Silbury Hill Shed

BIAB is moving from the CBA to ADS in 2016. The idea is to integrate it with other ADS Library resources like the Library of Unpublished Fieldwork Reports (aka the Grey Literature Library).

As a first step in this change we would like to establish who is using BIAB in its current form and which other bibliographic tools the historic environment community are using in their research.

Please complete the survey – which is no more than 10 questions – in order to help us identify the current and potential users of BIAB.

Continue reading BIAB is coming…

A Day in the Life: Historic England and OASIS

Since April 2004 when the latest incarnation of the OASIS Form went live I’ve had three main responsibilities as the main OASIS partner at Historic England:

1) Validation & Sign-off of Forms already completed by HERs

2) Training across England for contractors and curators

3) Inputting of the results of HE research

Ten years in and there have been few changes to these three strands; the most notable being the ‘proxy-validation’ of Forms with PDFs attached on behalf of a range of HERs. Figures of completed Forms from last November show that the vast majority of those signed-off by HE came via HER validation, with a handful of proxy Forms.

In April 2014 the total of completed Forms reached 20,000; at the end of 2014 it stood at 22,621 with almost 29,000 reports in the Grey Literature Library. In terms of HE research, OASIS has allowed the first county-wide systematic supply of HE work to HERs, perhaps the most satisfying personal achievement from the first ten years of the project. May I take this opportunity to thanks all my OASIS contacts for their input into the success of the system.

Mark Barratt

What Academics said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #7

This is the final instalment of the findings from the HERALD survey and covers the returns from 56 of the total 516 respondents who defined themselves as academic staff or students.

  1. All but one of the respondents replied as individuals and it was an almost even split between university staff and students. Most respondents worked in England with about 10% working in Scotland and Wales. 60% of respondents came from medium sized departments and the types of work carried out were diverse with largest group being 30% of respondents doing general fieldwork, and the next largest group being post excavation specialists.

Continue reading What Academics said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #7

What museum professionals said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #6

This was a small sample of a small community within archaeology and the historic environment being only 15 of the total 516 respondents and further consultation will be needed to confirm if the opinions below are a true reflection of the museum community. However it is worth noting that some of the questions received the same answers from all respondents.

  1. The majority of respondents came from England (73%) and just over half gave their own views rather than views on behalf of their organisations. The majority of responses came from museums with archaeological collections and archaeological curators.

Continue reading What museum professionals said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #6

What volunteers and community groups said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #5

Here’s the next in the series of HERALD survey findings: 67 of the total 516 respondents classed themselves as volunteers or community archaeologists including local societies and independent archaeologists or researchers.

The responses sample size was quite small in comparison with other groups (12% of total respondents). However, the results did provide some insight into the nature of community groups and how they were using existing digital resources and some of the reasons for not using the current OASIS system. Continue reading What volunteers and community groups said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #5

What historic building specialists said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #4

This is the fourth post in the series of HERALD survey findings for the redevelopment of the OASIS form. 79 of the total 516 respondents defined themselves local government conservation officers and 20 of the total 516 were historic building specialists.

  1. Most buildings specialists (BS) responded as individuals whereas conservation officers (CO) were much more likely to respond on behalf of their organisation. The majority of respondents for both groups work in England with a few BS working in Wales. There were no CO responses from Scotland because the survey was sent out on an English Heritage Conservation Officer list but not an equivalent list for Scotland.

Continue reading What historic building specialists said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #4

What specialists said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #3

This is the third instalment in the findings from the HERALD survey on the redevelopment of the OASIS form. Only 17 respondents from of the total of 516 respondents defined themselves Specialist (post excavation analyses). And although the results set was small these were the conclusions drawn from it:

  1. Three quarters of the 17 respondents who defined themselves as post-excavation specialists responded as individuals and all work in England with about a quarter also working in Scotland and Wales. The organisations represented were of all sizes from one person to over 250 employees.

Continue reading What specialists said about OASIS: HERALD survey findings #3