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11. Summary and Recommendations

11.1 Introduction

This final chapter pulls together all of the summaries of the data analysis chapters, together with the final policy recommendations made by Strategies for Digital Data.

11.2 The survey

11.3 Archives and digital datasets

11.4 The information needs of archaeologists

11.5 Datasets in digital and other media

11.6 Re-using digital data - developing a community vision for the best ways to facilitate access to, and re-use of, digital information

11.7 Strategies for digital data: Recommendations

  1. An on-line catalogue of digital data archive holdings, at least as national (and inter-linked) indices, and accessible from any computer connected to the Internet, would greatly assist research.
  2. The creation and archiving of digital data should be done in accordance with appropriate national and international data standards. The Integrated Information Systems underway for the dissemination of properly archived and curated archaeological data should be fully supported (e.g. Extended National Index for Wales, plans for English SMRs/the NMR and Scotland's CANMORE-Web). This necessitates collaboration between SMRs, NMRs, national bodies and the museum community and co-operation within and across national boundaries should be promoted where possible. HEIRNET may provide such a co-ordinative rôle.
  3. Digital data created as a result of archaeological research is of relevance to the wider community. Archaeologists in Britain must take advantage of the various new Integrated Information Systems being developed, such as New Library and the UK Archival Network, to ensure that archaeology has a voice in the inter-disciplinary partnerships envisaged between national and local government, libraries, HEIs, schools and public organisations.
  4. Data creation standards are essential to facilitate the exchange of information. National bodies in Britain and Ireland should continue to collaborate with European and International standards and guideline development programmes (e.g. CIDOC, CIMI).
  5. National bodies should continue to encourage the use of standards for projects they fund. Similar guidelines need to be built into project briefs for developer-funded work. A peer-reviewed list of archaeological data standards is held on-line by the ADS at: (http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/ project/userinfo/standards.html). As a part of archaeological good practice, all archaeologists should make use of appropriate standards in any work they undertake.
  6. Digital datasets are an important element of project archives that require active curation if they are to be preserved for future use.
  7. Project briefs should make clear provision for the archiving of any digital data created during the course of the project in an appropriate digital archive.
  8. Where archives are dispersed across more than one organisation, pointers to the location of other archive elements are important to maintain archive integrity.
  9. There is a need for a document that details the appropriate standards and facilities for digital archives. Included in this document should also be a list of digital archives that conform to these standards. An accreditation scheme for digital data should be devised.
  10. 'Raw datasets' such as primary finds analysis, site context information, surveying data, catalogues and indices are vital sources of information for research, and ideally accessed both on paper and digitally. Where created digitally, they should be targeted for inclusion in digital archives.
  11. The digital archiving of large databases, CAD and GIS files is necessary if these resources are to maintain their functionality.
  12. Regional and national proactive strategies need to be developed for the selection of digital datasets that meet the current and future needs of archaeologists.
  13. There is a need for the retrospective collection of already created digital data. The current lack of strategy means that archives are reacting in an ad hoc fashion.
  14. Access to indices of project archives should be free in the ADS catalogue, to assist individuals in locating project archives, to encourage greater use of archives (digital or other), and to involve the general public in as many ways as possible. It is recognised, however, that additional services such as copying datasets, postage, special tutoring and additional documentation may incur costs and these can be passed onto the user.
  15. Digital archiving bodies need some core funding for services such as archive maintenance, user support and training to ensure that charges to users are not prohibitive.
  16. Depositors may be charged for archiving datasets. Nevertheless, charges need to take into account how projects were initially funded and the level of public access the depositor allows to such data. Projects allowing high levels of access to their project information would ideally have lower deposit charges.
  17. Detailed datasets should be made available in a variety of ways to ensure access for the maximum number of users.
  18. In order to use digital data, training is necessary, both as part of on-going professional development and as a component of University education. There is also a need to provide appropriate training for digital archivists.
  19. Archaeological organisations might co-ordinate their efforts to develop strategies for funding IT infrastructure more effectively for archaeology as a whole.

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