Version 3.0 September 2015


Introduction to the Guidelines
Why Deposit Data?
Depositing with the ADS
What to Deposit
How to Deposit
Preparing Collections for Deposit
Data Management Plans
File Management (Formats, Structure, Naming, Versioning)
Selection and Retention
File-level Metadata Requirements
Databases, Spreadsheets and Statistics
Raster Images
Geophysics and Remote Sensing
CAD and Vector Images
Geographical Information Systems
Video and Audio
Virtual Reality
Collection-level Metadata Requirements
Deposit Check List

Depositing with the ADS

The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) is a discipline specific repository established in September 1996 which holds the Data Seal of Approval. For more information about the history and development of ADS see the About Us section of the website.

For additional insights into ADS activities and developments please take a look at the ADS Blog Sound Bytes from the ADS.

What to deposit

The ADS collects data sets within the area broadly defined as Archaeology and the Historic Environment, including the material culture aspects of Ancient History and Classics.

The ADS accepts a wide spectrum of archaeological data types, including: CAD files, databases, digital photography, geophysical and other survey data, GIS files, images and drawings, satellite imagery, spreadsheets, texts, and virtual reality files. For a full list of accepted file formats see ADS.

The ADS does not limit its collections policy according to any particular theme or chronological range and the geographical remit of the ADS is to provide digital archiving facilities for all areas of the world in which UK archaeologists have research interests. However, it is important to be aware that other digital archives exist with remits that cover specific regions or circumstances. To find out if ADS is the most suitable archive for your data email our helpdesk.

The ADS acknowledges that it is of considerable benefit to both depositors and users that there is an effective and rigorous process of peer review of materials proposed for accessioning.

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

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

Where questions arise about the suitability of a data set for archive or its reuse potential is unclear, the ADS can refer to a Collections Evaluation Working Group drawn from the ADS Management Committee to assist the ADS evaluate data sets and maintain the rigorous standards necessary for the effective development of a quality resource base.

More information about the criteria for evaluating data sets can be found in the ADS Collections Policy

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How to Deposit

There are several ways in which data can be archived with the ADS. The diagram below offers guidance on the most suitable way to deposit data dependent upon the circumstances of the data collection. Once accepted, data sets will be scheduled for accessioning. Accessioning procedures are standardised and include data validation, cataloguing, and mounting. The complexity of the data set will determine how long accessioning takes. If there is a special reason for needing data sets accessioned within a specific time frame, please contact the ADS in advance to discuss your requirements.

Online via ADS-easy

The ADS-easy system is aimed at depositors who want to archive small to medium projects of up to 300 files of a common type. ADS-easy allows depositors to upload digital content and associated metadata directly into the ADS repository. ADS-easy offers significant advantages to depositors over traditional methods of archive creation and submission by automating processes and reducing costs. The ADS-easy help pages have a step-by-step guide to using ADS-easy which can be used in conjunction with these Guidelines for Depositors.

Directly via an ADS digital archivist

For larger scale projects potential depositors should contact the ADS for information about depositing data. ADS should also be contacted directly if a special interface is to be developed. ADS staff are available to consult with potential depositors by email or telephone (01904 323 954) during office hours (9-5 Monday to Friday). A variety of data delivery methods can be accommodated including CD-ROM, portable hard drive, email and Cloud services. Data sets offered for deposit should be accompanied by a signed deposit licence and the relevant metadata and documentation detailed in the following pages of the Guidelines for Depositors. We prefer data not to be encoded, but we can accept UUENCODED files. If data is compressed, we prefer the following formats: Zip, GNU (.gz), Pkzip, Stuffit, TAR, Unix compressed files (.Z).

Online via OASIS

OASIS is used to record archaeological events undertaken in England, Scotland and Wales. The OASIS project brings together a number of strategic partners: English Heritage, Historic Scotland, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Archaeology Data Service. The OASIS data capture form has been designed to help in the flow of information from data producers, such as contracting units and community groups, through to local and national data managers, such as HERs and NHERs. The resulting information will be validated by the relevant body (English Heritage, RCAHMS, RCAHMW) and passed onto the ADS for inclusion within our archive. As part of the OASIS data capture process grey literature reports can be uploaded and archived free of charge and up to 150 images per project can be uploaded for archiving at a small charge. No other data types can be submitted to OASIS. For more information about OASIS take a look at the website.

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Professional ethics within the archaeological community require that access to primary data should be free at the point of use. This approach has been extended to digital archives, although it is accepted that in order to recoup the ongoing costs of digital preservation, some means of cost recovery is essential (Condron et al 1999). The ADS therefore imposes a charge for depositing data based on a complex charging policy.

The central tenets of the ADS charging policy are:

  • ADS online resources will be freely accessible.
  • A one-off payment collected at the time of deposit will be used to safeguard the long-term future of digital data.
  • Archiving costs should be recovered from the body funding the archaeological investigation or research (i.e. Developer or Funding body).
  • Archiving should be seen as part of project publication process and planned from outset.

The ADS charging policy is based on four elements of work:

Management and Administration

This includes processing the deposit, including negotiation with the depositor, dealing with rights management issues, deposit licences and issuing invoices.


This incorporates data migration, checksum procedures, creation of delivery and preservation copies, file and project level metadata creation/cleaning, and entry of data into the ADS Collections Management System. The work required is dependent on the number and complexity of files. For example images, text, and simple spreadsheets require less work and therefore costs less than CAD, GIS and relational databases.


This covers the creation of basic archive delivery web pages, simple file downloads and maintenance of the ADS website. If a special interface (on-line searchable database, interactive map interface etc) is required an additional charge will be made. As the interface requirements for each project will be unique these must be subject to price on request, but as an approximate indicator, an online queriable database may generally cost c. £1000-£5000, whilst a fully-functional GIS interface may cost as much as £10,000.

Storage and refreshment

This encompasses the ongoing process and costs of data refreshment and storage. This includes the periodical upgrade of systems, software and hardware and the maintenance of a contingency preservation fund.

Emphasis on any of these four elements may differ according to archiving service and the nature of projects with which they routinely deal. For more details on ADS costings see the ADS Charging Policy.

Calculating costs

The ADS costing calculator can be used to calculate the cost for depositing different file types and formats. The calculator provides a costing for depositing with ADS-easy and via direct contact with an ADS staff member.

For larger projects, special interfaces quotes and grant applicants contact the ADS helpdesk to obtain a quote.

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