Where does all the (OASIS) data go? Part 2: OASIS enhances the geophysics survey database

Back in 2012 the ADS archived and released the English Heritage Geophysical Survey Database. It was originally created in 1995 to provide a publicly accessible index of all the geophysical surveys of archaeological sites undertaken by English Heritage. Shortly after its inception its remit was expanded to include information about all surveys carried out over scheduled monuments and protected for which a licence is required under Section 42 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas act 1979. A further pilot project in the late 1990s to record details of surveys in England carried out in the commercial and academic sectors added details of over a thousand new surveys to the database. However, it was not possible to continue this project and make the database a fully comprehensive record of English geophysical surveys. Nevertheless, by the end of 2011 the database contained records of more than 2,700 surveys stretching back to the late 1960s.

In 2007 a geophysical survey sub-form was developed for the OASIS database in consultation with both English Heritage and the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland; the data structure for this was partly based on that used for the English Heritage database. This development and the success of the inclusion of geophysics records within the OASIS system, lead to the decision in 2011 to use OASIS as the primary means by which the English Heritage database would be updated to create a more comprehensive record of UK archaeological geophysical surveys.

How does this happen? If an OASIS user undertakes a geophysical survey they have the option to fill in a geophysics survey ‘module’ or section with in the OASIS form which requests the input of more detailed metadata about the nature of the geophysical survey. Once this record is complete it is validated and signed off by the relevant HER and NMR. If there is a report too, the OASIS metadata and the report is included in the grey literature library and archived by the ADS.  So far, so usual; but in the case of geophysical survey the specific technical metadata (regardless of whether the OASIS record included a report) is also included in the Geophysical Survey Database interface. Each month numerous records, initiated within the OASIS system, are being added to the survey database building on this great corpus of work and linking directly to reports and archives where they are available.

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