All posts by ADS

Opening up the Grey Literature Library

The Grey Literature Library is one of the ADS’s most popular resources, and as shown by projects such as the Roman Rural Landscape, one that is of massive research value. The library is constantly growing, with most reports coming from the OASIS system. In 2013 alone, there were 3891 reports submitted. Feedback from all levels of the archaeological community makes it clear that the hosting of openly accessible digital grey literature is a boon. However, one of the questions we are most commonly asked is “why does it take so long for a report uploaded to OASIS to make its way into the library?”. This is perfectly understandable; people who have completed an OASIS record to share the results of their fieldwork want to make sure this effort is not in vain. Rest assured it isn’t, here’s a small insight into what’s going on underneath the workings of the library.
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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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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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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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Digital Romans

This is the first of a two-part blog – the second will be a more detailed overview of the technologies involved in the digital dissemination – on the ADS’s work on what is colloquially known as the Roman Grey Literature project, but more officially as The Roman Rural Settlement of Britain. The project is funded by English Heritage and the Leverhulme Trust and is collaboration between ourselves, University of Reading and Cotswold Archaeology, which aims to produce a new synthesis of the rural landscape through the analysis of developer funded fieldwork. Some may be familiar with an earlier associated project, which has been archived by the ADS doi:10.5284/1000418, if you haven’t already seen it it’s well worth a look.

Funerary pottery
3rd century AD Pakenham colour-coat beaker (left) and 4th century AD Nene Valley colour-coat pentice moulded beaker from excavations at The Babraham Institute, Cambridgeshire. Cambridge Archaeological Unit doi:10.5284/1001160

As with nearly all major research projects, the main outputs for this consist of the usual hard-copy publications including a monograph and various journal articles but in addition to these there will also be a project archive held with the ADS. As we’ve been involved in the project from the beginning the archive will be a great deal more than the usual ‘downloads’ interface. Hopefully by the end of the project (at the time of writing summer 2015) we’ll have in place a well-formed and meticulous archive to allow sophisticated reuse of the data and grey literature sources collected by the team, thus facilitating and encouraging further analyses by the archaeological community.
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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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