We were very pleased to recently release our first archive which was deposited with us via ADS-easy. Oxford Archaeology (South) deposited a small archive of the digital outputs of a trail trench evaluation a trial trench evaluation on the site of The Former NXP Works in Southampton, Hampshire, on behalf of CgMs Consulting prior to the redevelopment of the site by Canmoor Projects Ltd. The work took place in March 2013 and the archive deposited with the ADS in accordance with instructions from Southampton Arts and Heritage.
Although there were undoubtedly some steep learning curves to climb by both ourselves and our colleagues at Oxford Archaeology, once the data was in the system we (here at the ADS) certainly started to reap the benefits of the SWORD_ARM project.
The process internally was easier and more efficient, just some examples are included here:
Because the depositor had completed the metadata within ADS-easy we did not have to copy this manually from a text document or spreadsheet into our systems, cutting out duplication of effort and hours of work;
The programmatic movement of files within our system to, for example, our preservation directory, meant we not only saved time but also reduced the likelihood of introducing human error into the system;
Because the interface is now automatically generated from the system, we again save time and increase the level of consistency we can achieve between archives, hopefully creating a more familiar experience for our users.
Even those initial teething issues have been useful; we have been able to take the feedback from Oxford Archaeology (and other subsequent users of ADS-easy) and make changes in response, especially concentrating on making the creation of file level metadata more understandable. This has, in turn, lead to us embarking on work to ensure that all our internal guidelines are consistent, clear and easily understandable whether you are depositing in the ‘traditional’ way by CD or using ADS-easy. This work is on going as are modifications and enhancement to the ADS-easy system as it start to become a part of depositors tool box.
We would like to thank Oxford Archaeology, and other ADS-easy pioneers, whose good will, good humour and perceptive feedback have helped immeasurably in the development of this tool.
It has been almost a year since the end of the main development phase of the SWORDARM project and we are still learning about how best to use the system and how to support those who want to use it. While our learning curve remains steep as we embed the system into our work process and those of the sector, we completed the JISC funded work and produced a final report which you can download here SWORDARM Final Report.
More information about SWORDARM, evidence and benefits can be found on the SWORDARM web page.
At Easter time I was lucky enough to attend the Computing Applications in Archaeology (CAA) conference at the Sorbonne in Paris. Apart from the obvious delights of Paris in the spring-time this gave us the opportunity to tell an international audience about our development of the ADS-easy tool as a result of the SWORDARM project. Our paper (written jointly by Ray Moore and myself) was well positioned in a session looking at ‘Strategy, Practice and Trends in On-line Archaeology’ chaired by Judith Winters of Internet Archaeology and Virginie Fromageot-Laniepce of CNRS. The audience seemed interested in our project and many recognised the problem of making deposition in a repository as easy (and cheap) as possible in order to encourage the proper archiving of research data. In particular the presentation raised questions from the audience about our costing tool; I think this really reflects the concerns that many in the sector have about making archiving financially sustainable.
It was fantastic to be able to go to Paris to talk about our work, and the conference sparked lots of discussion about ADS-easy and other initiatives from the ADS! We still managed to squeeze in a boat trip on the Seine!
After a summer-long period of internal testing, the ADS-easy system has been linked into the main ADS site. So we are now moving into a phase of testing by external colleagues from the commercial sector who have kindly said that they will use the system to submit a selected number of archives to the ADS over the next few months. It will be an interesting time as we try and assess how easy it is for our guinea-pig-depositors to get to grips with the new form, whether they find it onerous or quite straightforward – the latter we hope. Here at the ADS, we too will be expecting a steep learning curve in dealing with deposits that come with very little face-to-face or email-to-email interaction with our depositors. Will we be able to produce the sort of archive that they want or expect and will it come in at the right price to satisfy the depositors at the same time as covering our archiving costs.
So if you decide to start using the form to deposit please bear with us in this period of Beta release.
Catherine and Ray from the SWORD-ARM project were amongst ADS staff who attended the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) annual conference last week at the Aston Conference Centre in Birmingham. We had the opportunity to display our new poster on the ADS stand and talk to many of the delegates about the plans to roll out the ADS-easy system to the community in June or July this year. We were also able to incorporate information about the system, and how it will work, in to a specific IfA training workshop on digital archiving. Initial feedback from those at the training workshop was really positive; but interestingly the attendees quickly identified that the requirement for archiving should ideally be enforced through either the planning brief or museum deposition requirements. A good start to the role out!