Community Groups: Do they ever use OASIS?

We are often asked if Community Groups ever use OASIS and whether if they don’t, then should they? Well, the simple answer is that they definately should, and can, and they definately do!

When we first launched OASIS and tried to establish its use primarily within the development control arena, focusing on use of the form by commercial contracting units. However, there was never any reason why other archaeologists, whether working in a community group or in an academic department shouldn’t use the form. Indeed, it is often this sort of work, lying outside the planning process, which is not routinely reported to the HER, so it becomes even more important to encourage the use of OASIS by those working in this part of the sector.

Slide1Over the last ten years  a small number of groups have used the form, the spike in use shown on the graph comes from the high volume of work undertaken by the Bamburgh Research Project in 2011. This may not, at first glance, look very impressive but when we delve into the statistics a little further we can see that most community groups only generate one project record and then disband. We can see that in the diagram below the vast majority of groups have only completed one record.

Slide2So while it is fantastic that there are 267 OASIS records associated with community group work, how does this translate to reports in the Grey Literature Library? The numbers don’t look fantastic, from these 267 OASIS records we have 94 reports in the library. We think this may be because of a number of issues. But, we wonder if the main reason for this could be because many of these community groups often have ties to local archaeological societies (or are members of the local archaeological society), they consider that the natural place for an article about the work is the local society journal? This sounds reasonable to us and as the community group can record the bibliographic reference of their article within OASIS, our users should be able to track down the full reports in the relevant journal.

But this quick review of OASIS’ use by Community Groups does highlight to us the importance of engaging with this sector more fully, and we  hope that many of them will answer our HERALD questionnaire so that we can redevelop OASIS to better suit their purposes and increase their participation, and thereby enhance HER records and raise their visibility to boot .


3 thoughts on “Community Groups: Do they ever use OASIS?

  1. Interesting reading, especially as (mentioned in this article ) Community/Local Society excavations are often under-represented in national databases. As you say, OASIS is often perceived as a mechanism for transfer of ‘grey literature’. If people are not producing these reports then an OASIS record may not be deemed suitable to begin with.

    I think that another issue could also be semantics: OASIS asks for ‘project dates’ and ‘project details’. Quite often groups such as these have long-running “projects” that consist of many field seasons at the same locale – perhaps they may leave a record incomplete (or not do one at all) until a project is finished. Thus you may be seeing a different timespan/completion pattern compared to the vast majority of OASIS records.

    Lets hope your HERALD project opens up this discussion further

  2. Hi Roger,

    Thanks for your comment, and for referring to that paper! Funnily enough a colleague within the Dpt. of Archaeology who runs a ‘community archaeology’ project had the same interpretation of the term “project”, so was waiting until the end of the multi-year project to fill in an OASIS record.

  3. Just for clarity, although Bamburgh Research Project started out as a community-focussed group and still operate community activities, they also act commercial archaeological contractor. We remain pleased that they still use OASIS for both types of work!

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