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.

  1. Over 85% of responding museums were accepting archives from archaeological fieldwork.
  1. There were clear differences in when museums provide museum reference numbers for projects/archives. A quarter of respondents provide them before fieldwork begins, a fifth provide them at some point between then and the deposition of the archive but 40% provide them on receipt of the archive to the museum.
  1. Two thirds of respondents had heard of OASIS and knew what it does and a quarter had heard of it but were unsure of its purpose.
  1. Almost three quarters of respondents thought that the availability of grey literature online had positively affected their work. Most grey literature was made available to users by email followed by online and in person. Over 85% of respondents would like to have access to grey literature through OASIS rather than waiting until it is available publically through the ADS library.
  1. All respondents would like to receive a notification when a contractor completes the archive section of the OASIS form for a project in their area.

“Yes – particularly knowledge of contents of an archive would be of great benefit and improve the accuracy and efficiency of our own recording systems”

  1. There is little awareness of the outputs of OASIS. Only 40% of respondents had heard of DOIs and only 1 respondent (6%) recorded them. Only a third knew that there was an export facility from OASIS and only a fifth knew that records from OASIS go on to populate other databases such as the Geophysical survey database. This is not that surprising however as all respondents are non-users of OASIS.
  1. All respondents thought that OASIS should be improved to collect information on historic buildings, specialist and environment archaeology, use the EH event thesaurus and enable the upload of backlog grey literature reports.
  1. All respondents thought that OASIS should record the transfer of project archives to the relevant museum and that museum curators should be included in the OASIS workflow. This was also supported by the more detailed information received through the telephone interviews.
  1. All respondents and telephone interviewees wanted their collections policies available via OASIS.
  1. Even as non-users the respondents were generally positive about the intended interface enhancements to OASIS; project boundaries marked on maps, more control of email notifications and having personal rather than organisational logins to the system.
  1. Approximately two thirds of respondents thought that some archive preparation tasks could be usefully done via OASIS such as providing accession numbers, generating box lists and printing scannable identifiers. The same amount thought that the archive section of OASIS should be mandatory and that sending reminders to contractors via OASIS would also be useful. This view was also supported by the telephone interviewees.

“Re accession numbers – each museum will have its own requirements/process that may need to sit alongside this – so entering the allocated number on an OASIS record rather than processing the allocation of a number would be more applicable”

  1. There was general support (two thirds positive and one third indifferent) to having the records available publicly whilst the project was ‘live’ and through the Heritage Gateway.
  1. Training: most popular were online videos and an online manual (66%) followed by group workshops (46%) and a helpdesk (33%).
  1. Publicity and keeping people up to date with OASIS: most popular were emails to the OASIS mailing lists followed by the OASIS website, blog. Twitter and Facebook were much higher for this user groups than with others.
  1. The general comments on how to improve information flow with OASIS were over all positive with the general theme being including museums in the event recording and management process.

“Include museums as part of the system – adding accession numbers, confirming that a project has been deposited – allowing HERS and planning archaeologists that the process is complete. I would like to know that the planning archaeologist has signed the report off so that I can delay deposition until the work has been completed to the desired standard and brief. This would save time and effort in having internal processes to make sure this happens.”

The next and final instalment in the HERALD survey findings is from the Academic community.

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