Archaeology Data Service

What is the ADS?

The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) supports research, learning and teaching with freely available, open access, high quality and dependable digital resources. It does this by preserving digital data in the long term, and by promoting and disseminating a broad range of data in archaeology. The ADS promotes good practice in the use of digital data in archaeology, and provides technical advice to the research community, and supports the deployment of digital technologies.

The Importance of the ADS to Archaeology

Archaeology is in a special position in that much of the creation of its data results from destruction of primary evidence, making access to data all the more critical in order to test, assess, and subsequently reanalyse and reinterpret both data and the hypotheses arising from them. Over the years, archaeologists have amassed a vast collection of fieldwork data archives, a significant proportion of which remain unpublished. Access to data, even those which are published, is often difficult or inconvenient at best.

The ADS provides an integrated open access on-line catalogue to its 500+ collections, 22,000+ grey literature reports and provides a gateway to other historic environment collections through our general Archsearch facility, our project Archives facility and our Grey Literature Library.

The ADS is works with national and local archaeological agencies and those research councils involved in the funding of archaeological research, to negotiate deposition of project data. This includes data derived from fieldwork as well as desk-based studies. The types of data involved include: text reports, databases (related to excavated contexts or artefacts, for example), images (including aerial photographs, remote sensing imagery, photographs of sites, features and artefacts), digitised maps and plans, numerical datasets related to topographical and sub-surface surveys and other locational data, as well as reconstruction drawings.

ADS Services

For users: archaeological researchers and teachers

Whether you are involved in archaeological research or teaching, the ADS makes data sets available to support your work. Our on-line catalogue Archsearch enables you to search for relevant archaeological data sets, or more widely across the Humanities as a whole, by headings such as author, title, subject, area or period. If you are interested in archiving information with the ADS, you may find our Guidelines for Depositors and Guidelines for Cataloging helpful. You may also be interested in the recommendations contained within our Guide to Good Practice series.

For data creators and depositors

If you or your organisation creates archaeological data in an electronic form then you should consider using the ADS to provide permanent cataloguing, storage, and curation of your data. Our collection policy is available and we will be happy to negotiate a deposit and access agreement with you. If you are interested in archiving information with the ADS, you may find our Guidelines for Depositors and Guidelines for Cataloguing helpful. You may also be interested in the recommendations contained within our Guide to Good Practice series.

For funding and other agencies

The ADS promotes standards and best practice in the creation, description, preservation, and use of electronic information. We were major contributors to the AHDS series of Guides to Good Practice. Titles include excavation and fieldwork archiving, geophysics, aerial and satellite imagery and GIS.

The Grey Literature Library: Over 22,000 Open Access Archaeological Reports available at the ADS

The aim of the Archaeology Data Service’s (ADS) Grey Literature Library is to make unpublished archaeological fieldwork reports, that are often difficult to discover via conventional channels because they are not published commercially, freely available to the public in an easily retrievable fashion. These unpublished reports cover archaeological interventions such as: watching briefs, excavation reports and building surveys. Desk-based assessments and specialist analysis are also included.

Through the Grey Literature Library it is possible to search for archaeological reports by contractor, using the browse by contractor option, or carry out more advanced searches, filtering the reports by period, monument type, artefact type and location using the search option.

The Grey Literature Library has been growing steadily over the past decade as a result of the OASIS project in England and Scotland. The OASIS project allows archaeologists to upload reports and associated metadata about archaeological activities via an online data capture form. The OASIS project then manages the flow of information from the archaeological data producers, such as the contracting units and community groups, through to the local Historic Environment Records and the National Monuments Record for validation, before it is passed on to the ADS for public dissemination via the Grey Literature Library.

To coincide with Open Access Week ADS has released 1678 new grey literature reports bring the total of currently available reports to 22,128.

Here are just a few examples of important reports made available by the Grey Literature Library:

The Over Narrows (Cambridge Archaeology Unit)

The Over Narrows (Pt. V; 2010)

Two reports on Mesolithic and Neolithic lithic scatters, Beaker and Grooved Ware pottery spreads, roundhouses and a “strip-compound” enclosure of Bronze Age date. Notable for rare evidence of spade-cultivation (probably Beaker-associated).

Bedford Western Bypass

Four reports revealing an area of intense past activity from the Neolithic through the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Romano-British periods.

BRITNED Interconnector

Multiple reports on multi-stage offshore investigations including test-pits, geophysics, cores and investigations of a previously undiscovered wreck site.

Holy Island (Lindisfarne)

Report on geophysical survey that revealed structural remains possibly associated with the priory, as well as other phases of activity and possible industrial features.

Open Access Data Papers at Internet Archaeology

Open Access week is an ideal place to highlight the exciting new introduction of Open Access Data Papers to Internet Archaeology’s repertoire.

Internet Archaeology is an independent, not-for-profit, peer-reviewed e-journal for archaeology that has been publishing online since 1996. Internet Archaeology is a hybrid Open Access e-journal, which means that authors (or in most cases, their research supporters, funding bodies or affiliated institutions) can pay article development costs/publication fees so that that content is not subject to a subscription.

The contents of the journal are archived with its sister service, the Archaeology Data Service, (ADS) whose remit is the long-term preservation of digital research materials. The ADS also supports research, learning and teaching with freely available, high quality and dependable digital resources.

However, sometimes the level of recognition gained from depositing your research data with an accredited repository like ADS is limited, so in an attempt to redress this for the archaeological community, Internet Archaeology is working with several trusted repositories, including ADS, tDAR and Open Context, to establish a series of published, peer-reviewed, open access ‘data papers’.

What is a Data Paper?

A data paper is a short, peer-reviewed publication that is designed to raise awareness of your dataset and its re-use potential. A lot of effort goes into into creating data and a data paper in Internet Archaeology allows the data creator to get credit for it, publicise it, and to share it with the community. A data paper describes the contents of your dataset (already or soon to be deposited with an accredited repository), the methods used to create that dataset and most importantly, what further avenues of research are possible.

A data paper is an extension of the ‘integrated publication’ model Internet Archaeology has already been developing with ADS  which integrates data within an articles narrative. A data paper differs from a normal article in that the paper is much shorter and so able to be published more quickly. An innovative aspect of a data paper is that it also explicitly credits the referee of the paper and makes their comments available for all to read. A data paper may be used to complement and enhance a related IA publication or help add context to a standalone archive.

The main points that define a data paper are:

  • It describes the content and the re-use potential of a particular dataset hosted in a repository (usually by the same authors)
  • The data paper is accompanied by an unanonymised referee (peer) statement on the data’s re-use potential and significance
  • It is an edited, Open Access publication, disseminated under a CC-BY licence
  • It is assigned a CrossRef DOI
  • It links back to the original deposited dataset

Read more about how to publish a data paper in Internet Archaeology here..

Or see Internet Archaeology’s first published data paper by Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Jeffrey Fleisher.

The Archaeology Data service is also celebrating Open Access Week by publishing a new archive every day so keep an eye on @ADS_Update twitter feed or the ADS Facebook page for updates.