How should OASIS collect large area surveys?

If you are an OASIS user or potential user we need your comments on how the new OASIS system will record large area surveys.

The current version of OASIS was not designed to collect large area surveys and so does not cope with it very well. We think we can do better in the new system, but we need your help!

This is how things might be improved. Please use the comments section to tell us what you think.

© Museum of London Archaeology, Northamptonshire County Council

What scenarios are there? We think:

  1. Walkover surveys e.g. Windfarm
  2. Thematic surveys/studies e.g. Roman bath sites in the UK
  3. Linear projects e.g. Road/rail schemes
  4. Large geophysical surveys
  5.  Can you add others?

Recording and reporting:

Continue reading How should OASIS collect large area surveys?

Subscribe to the OASIS blog or follow us on twitter

As part of the HERALD project we are looking at how we communicate with people about OASIS, what is does and how it can be used and giving updates of progress with the new system.

We’ve added a subscribe option to the blog so you can receive emails to your inbox each time a new post is published – we do already add these to the OASIS login page and send it out on the OASIS ANNOUNCE JISCmail list.

We’ve joined twitter and so will be tweeting about OASIS as @oasis_data

We are also still looking at fine tuning the workflows and design of the new system so we will be blogging soon about particular sections of the form and hoping that you can let us know your thoughts.


The new ADS Library – tell us what you think

libraryThank you if you responded to the BIAB (British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography) user needs survey last year, we have now produced a mock up of the ADS Library system which reflects the survey responses. We have made the survey responses available in on the ADS blog.

The ADS Library will bring together bibliographic references and publications from BIAB, the ADS Library of Unpublished Fieldwork Reports, archived journals and research reports as well as references from other sources.

Link removed – Sorry the mock up consultation is now closed

The mock up is made up of a series of screen shots of what the new system could look like and the functionality it could include. Please use the comments area to leave any feedback you have, positive or negative, as if we don’t know your thoughts now we cannot accommodate them in the final design. We would appreciate your comments even if you are not a user of the BIAB current system.

The mock up will be open for comments until Sunday 5th June.

Providing feedback will give you a real opportunity to influence the redevelopement of BIAB as the ADS Library.

If you have any questions about this, or the project in general, please contact the ADS via Jo Gilham on or 01904 323937.

Link removed – Sorry the mock up consultation is now closed



OASIS+Buildings Mock-up open for comment!

During the user needs survey undertaken as part of the HERALD project, it was recognised that historic building practitioners were keen to have an interface in the new system that related specifically to buildings.

It was also clear that this interface would need to be carefully designed, with the process involving plenty of feedback from those who would be using the new system.

With this in mind, Historic England commissioned the ADS to design a mock-up of what a historic buildings interface for OASIS might look like

This is your last opportunity to comment before the system is built, so please let us know what you think!

How to comment:

Chrome 21+, Firefox 28+, Safari 6+ and Opera 15+ users can view an interactive version online at Send comments to or  ask to be put on the collaborators list. Becoming a collaborator will allow you post comments onto the mock-up pages themselves.

Internet Explorer Users: Download the PDF, send comments to

Important note: The new OASIS system (as opposed to the mock-up) will work with recent versions of most browsers including Internet Explorer.

OASIS Wales and the CIfA conference video

Here’s a 10 minute introduction to the HERALD project and the Stage 1 user needs survey results and plans on how Wales are going to start using OASIS. It was a paper given at the CIfA conference in Cardiff in April 2015 and titled: UK-level data collection – ADS and OASIS, workflow and best practice

The HERALD project is part of Historic England’s Heritage Information Strategy and here is an explanation of it given also at CIfA 2015.

Would you like to know what the new OASIS system will do?

The structure of the new OASIS system
The structure of the new OASIS system

We’re in the process of writing the project design for Stage 2 of the HERALD project – the redevelopment of the form. The actual redevelopment will start next year (if funded by Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland). The draft project design was shown to the OASIS Management Board yesterday (we meet twice a year) and it was agreed to circulate it more widely to see if there was comment on how we have tried to represent  the opinions and information gathered during the user needs survey and interviews which were Stage 1 of the project. The requirements identified in Stage 1 were many and varied and so we have tried to make the new OASIS system more flexible so it will meet more people’s needs.

The headlines of possible changes include:

  • BIAB and the Grey Literature Library will be combined with other bibliographic and textual resources from the ADS and made into the ADS Library
  • Museums will be included in the OASIS workflow and will be able to download information about the archive details from OASIS
  • HERs will be able to start records in OASIS from their HER software (with the necessary technical enhancements) and contractors will then be able to add to these stem-records. This is only if the HER prefers this workflow and it removes duplication of effort.
  • And many more… read the draft project design for the full explanation of the new system

The draft project design is available in the document archive of the OASIS website and we would love to hear from anyone with comments but in order to get the project design in to Historic England during November we’re asking for comments by the 9th November 2015.


Where next for OASIS…


CC Image courtesy of Snug LePup on Flickr

Stage one of the HERALD Project: the user needs has been completed and the final report is available on the OASIS website in the document archive.

HERALD: Historic Environment Research Archives, Links and Data is the project name given to the redevelopment of the OASIS system and Stage 1 ran from January 2014 to May 2015. The project involved consulting the users from different sectors of the historic environment community using a combination of workshops,  surveys, telephone interviews to produce a number of survey reports. This then informed the design of a mock up of a new OASIS system to test potential changes in workflows and content gathered. The comments received from the community on the mock up and the survey reports went on to produce the recommendations for a new system in the final report.

Stage 2 of the project is subject to approval by Historic England but will hopefully start development next year.


Assessing voluntary group archaeology

One of the aims for the OASIS redevelopment project is to develop a system that will encourage greater engagement from the community sector. In order to do that we need to know how much and what type of work is being carried out by the volunteer and community sector.

Therefore we are particularly keen to see the result of a new Historic England commissioned project to find out how much archaeology, historic building and local history research is carried out by voluntary groups in England. The project, conducted by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, will assess the value or potential value this research has for enhancing Historic Environment Records (HERs) and Research Frameworks, which will directly impact our OASIS redesign.

The project asks local history and archaeology societies, diving groups and historic building enthusiasts to contribute to the project by completing an online survey before the 21st September. Completing the survey will help provide a better understanding of the contribution of volunteer efforts to heritage research, and to make sure that local history, historic building and archaeological research is better valued.

Survey link:

We encourage all community and volunteer groups to complete the survey, and ask people not directly involved in community work to share the survey with those that are, while we look forward to seeing the results.

The survey can also be completed by post – please contact Rob Hedge on 01905 765654.

BIAB is coming…

Please help us by completing the short BIAB survey
© Historic England - Moving the Silbury Hill Shed
© Historic England – Moving the Silbury Hill Shed

BIAB is moving from the CBA to ADS in 2016. The idea is to integrate it with other ADS Library resources like the Library of Unpublished Fieldwork Reports (aka the Grey Literature Library).

As a first step in this change we would like to establish who is using BIAB in its current form and which other bibliographic tools the historic environment community are using in their research.

Please complete the survey – which is no more than 10 questions – in order to help us identify the current and potential users of BIAB.

Continue reading BIAB is coming…

A Day in the Life: Historic England and OASIS

Since April 2004 when the latest incarnation of the OASIS Form went live I’ve had three main responsibilities as the main OASIS partner at Historic England:

1) Validation & Sign-off of Forms already completed by HERs

2) Training across England for contractors and curators

3) Inputting of the results of HE research

Ten years in and there have been few changes to these three strands; the most notable being the ‘proxy-validation’ of Forms with PDFs attached on behalf of a range of HERs. Figures of completed Forms from last November show that the vast majority of those signed-off by HE came via HER validation, with a handful of proxy Forms.

In April 2014 the total of completed Forms reached 20,000; at the end of 2014 it stood at 22,621 with almost 29,000 reports in the Grey Literature Library. In terms of HE research, OASIS has allowed the first county-wide systematic supply of HE work to HERs, perhaps the most satisfying personal achievement from the first ten years of the project. May I take this opportunity to thanks all my OASIS contacts for their input into the success of the system.

Mark Barratt