Challenges of Digging Data paper examines needs of archaeological data reusers

Written by Ixchel Faniel, OCLC Research; Eric Kansa, University of California Berkeley, School of Information; Sarah Whitcher Kansa, The Alexandria Archive Institute; Julianna Barrera-Gomez, OCLC Research; and Elizabeth Yakel, University of Michigan, School of Information, "The Challenges of Digging Data: A Study of Context in Archaeological Data Reuse" appears in JCDL 2013 Proceedings of the 13th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries.

Key highlights from the paper include:

  • Archaeologists' data collection procedures are highly sought to account for activity that occurs during field research
  • Archaeologists reusing data are interested in the entire data lifecycle—from data collection preparation to repository

An abstract of the paper is available below and a pre-print [pdf] is available on the OCLC Research website.

"The Challenges of Digging Data: A Study of Context in Archaeological Data Reuse" Abstract

Field archaeology only recently developed centralized systems for data curation, management, and reuse. Data documentation guidelines, standards, and ontologies have yet to see wide adoption in this discipline. Moreover, repository practices have focused on supporting data collection, deposit, discovery, and access more than data reuse. In this paper we examine the needs of archaeological data reusers, particularly the context they need to understand, verify, and trust data others collect during field studies. We then apply our findings to the existing work on standards development. We find that archaeologists place the most importance on data collection procedures, but the reputation and scholarly affiliation of the archaeologists who conducted the original field studies, the wording and structure of the documentation created during field work, and the repository where the data are housed also inform reuse. While guidelines, standards, and ontologies address some aspects of the context data reusers need, they provide less guidance on others, especially those related to research design. We argue repositories need to address these missing dimensions of context to better support data reuse in archaeology.



For more information: Ixchel Faniel, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Researcher
OCLC Research

Melissa Renspie
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research


Quick links:

"The Challenges of Digging Data: A Study of Context in Archaeological Data Reuse"

  • preprint (pdf: 152K/12 pp.) [link]
  • DOI [link]
  • presentation slides [link]