Internet Archaeology Archive: Third annual report 1997-98

1. Activities and Progress

i. Major objectives

During its third year the project focussed efforts on five main objectives:

The first three of our main objectives have been largely fulfilled and we have made the transition from a research project to a smooth running journal. During our third year we continued to refine our working practices, but we were largely able to depend upon the refereeing system, editorial policy, staff and committee structures which had been established during the first two years of the project.

These efforts have established Internet Archaeology as one of the most successful e-journal projects supported by eLib, with four completed issues of high quality, peer-reviewed, multi-media contributions (containing some 597,400 words (4.9Mb), 1335 colour images (21.5Mb) including 3 VRML models, and 75,000 database catalogue entries (4Mb)) and over 8,800 registered users.

ii. Main activities

Our main activities during our third year focussed in the following areas:

iii. Project outputs

In line with these activities, our main outputs have been:

During the year we have gathered evidence that the material published in the journal is having an impact on research in archaeology (e.g. Signorelli who used one of the data sets published in Internet Archaeology to conduct new research), and there has been a continuing flow of proposals for publication in the journal.

iv. Particular successes

We continue to be impressed by the rapid growth in our user-base. By the end of July 1998 the number of registered readers exceeded 8,800. This represented an increase of more than 100% during the past twelve months. These figures are well above subscriber numbers to any national or international archaeology academic print journal though we recognise that the figures are not directly comparable. In the year from 1 August 1997 to 31 July 1998 the journal's web pages received over 194,000 successful requests for pages an increase of some 63% over the previous year (see Appendix IX).

This year the journal attracted its first contributions carrying external funding. Publication subventions are likely to provide the life-blood of the journal in the future and these initial results are encouraging.

We have also been encouraged by the increase in the number of high quality scholarly contributions which are being offered for publication with the journal. We are also in the process of soliciting contributions to future issues centred on particular themes and we believe it is an indication of the increasing acceptance of electronic publication in archaeology that many leading scholars are now accepting our invitations to publish in the journal.

We believe that we now have in place a comprehensive set of external review mechanisms so that the journal can benefit from the advice and guidance of the archaeological community. The development of a community-based and informed journal is one of the keys to our success. These review mechanisms, include:

We have also begun to appoint international Advisory Editors, and the first appointment, Prof Mark Aldenderfer, is a senior American academic from the University of California Santa Barbara. He will be coordinating a special feature on visualisation for issue 6 of the journal (to be published in 1999), and we are currently soliciting contributions from other leading scholars on the theme of hypertext publication in archaeology.

2. Learning from the process of implementation

i. Difficulties managing project and carrying out activities

ii. Influences of eLib and other programmes

The journal continues to be held up as a model of high quality and innovative electronic publishing. We continue to play an important role in archaeological publication by:

  1. demonstrating that electronic publication changes the nature of the article' by publishing substantial research monographs;
  2. publishing data resources, such as databases, alongside or as a part of the articles;
  3. including virtual reality models and other multimedia features; and
  4. making accessible fully documented technical and editorial issues including recommendations for bibliographic referencing, user registration and copyright procedures.

These successes have contributed to the design and development of other digital archaeological publication initiatives.

Our close working relationship with the ADS made it possible for us to introduce the use of Dublin core metadata as a standard indexing tool using a Dublin core metadata generator developed for us by the ADS.

The journal continues to follow eLib guidelines on standards and no files will be stored in proprietary data formats except as a last resort or where the standard has been commonly adopted. Internet Archaeology relies on data and software standards that are widely accessible and enhance the long term storage possibilities.

iii. Changes to our plan

The main changes to our plans took place during years one and two. The shifts this year were technological and reflected our realisation that we can benefit from enhancing our synergetic relationship with Archaeology Data Service (ADS) through sharing hardware, experience and creating a clear demarcation between publication and preservation.

Using our Mailbase list (intarch-interest) we have been working to encourage the interactive nature of the journal by using the articles to stimulate informed discussion about the research issues raised by the articles we publish. This interactive quality, initially indicated in our original proposal, has great potential to establish the journal not just as a place for publication but as a forum for the ongoing examination of archaeological issues. These discussions will provide the basis for the journal to contribute further to the intellectual development of the discipline. They will also provide students with a way of watching and contributing to academic debate from which traditional modes of publication and discussion have in the past excluded them.

All our evaluation studies have centred on users. We now realise that we need some non-user information if we are to develop a better understanding as to why some archaeologists do not read the journal regularly and why authors are not attracted to publish in it. We did not envisage non-user studies and are just beginning to investigate how these might be conducted. A major evaluation exercise is planned for the coming year, in advance of the introduction of subscriptions.

We considered the possible generation of revenue from the sales of CD-ROMs of back issues of the journal. We have now concluded that although the costs of CD-ROM production, marketing and distribution might be covered by income from sales, such publication would (1) cause a short term loss of focus on our core activity of publishing a regular scholarly journal, (2) would not contribute substantial sums of income to the journal, (3) might change the public perception of the journal, and (4) could reduce the income generating potential of Internet Archaeology by undermining the value of the information resource that we are creating and which will form the foundation for all future chargeable aspects of the journal. For these reasons we have rejected CD-ROM publication.

iv. Unexpected opportunities / outcomes

Internet Archaeology has from the start used the data collected about users to profile use of the journal in a broad sense, but we have never exploited the user data' to its fullest capacity. We have now made available the log files to an MSc IT student who is carrying out a detailed examination into how users read' this electronic journal. By better understanding the process of using an electronic journal we believe we can design better articles. The conclusions reached by this study will bring benefits to other electronic journal projects and will hopefully be published in due course.

Initially we felt that it was necessary for the Editorial Board to have regular meeting, but our experience has now demonstrated to us that the work of the board can be conducted very effectively by email.

v. Learning experience

The dependance of a project of this kind on key staff members is an area of potential difficulty. In our case the departure of the Assistant Editor created a production bottleneck which seriously disrupted our publication schedule. There is little we can do to address this issue given our limited resources because such changes are unpredictable. We recognise that the project depends upon our ability to attract a number of part-time staff with a range of skills (e.g. Managing Editor, Assistant Editor, Copy Editor, Administrator) and a range of consultants with skills in technical development areas (e.g. databases, preparation of cgi scripts).

We recognise the importance of continuing to promote the knowledge about our work. Initially we concentrated our promotional activity on the UK market, with a colour leaflet and adverts in a number of print publications (e.g. British Archaeology and Antiquity). We are planning to enhance our marketing efforts outside of the UK, and have made a start with a presentation at the Society for American Archaeology's conference in Seattle. We realise that promotion is one of the main keys to the success of the journal: it will encourage authors to contribute, inform real and potential readers, and have an impact on our ability to make the transition from a free to a chargeable service.

3. Interim evaluation results

Evaluation results

i. Forms of evaluation
We continue to evaluate the use and impact of the Internet Archaeology. This information helps us to plan better both the articles we publish, how we present them and the technologies which we use. We have used a range of evaluation strategies to collect this information, including:

  1. Focus groups
  2. Analysis of access and error log data
  3. Informal feedback
  4. Feedback via the Journal's mailing list, intarch-interest
  5. Feedback to and from the Steering Committee
  6. Responses to reports submitted to the Publication Committees of the Council for British Archaeology and the British Academy

ii. Results
The results of the evaluation programme are considered under the following headings:

  1. Mobilisation
  2. Cultural change
  3. Cost-effectiveness/value-added
  4. Sustainability
  5. Demand/usefulness/performance
  6. Future scenarios
  7. Contribution to overall project goals

iii. Mobilisation
Internet Archaeology belongs to the archaeology HE community and it is managed by a consortium of archaeology departments (Durham, Glasgow, Oxford, Southampton), the Council for British Archaeology, and the British Academy. The project has demonstrated its claim that archaeology is a particularly appropriate discipline for electronic publication, that depends upon a rich variety of data types and large quantities of primary evidence. Although we have to work with authors to make the transition from concept to final publication we are now find that increasing numbers of authors are coming forward with ideas in hypermedia form. In part the experiences of Internet Archaeology have contributed to the increased interest in electronic publication as a way of disseminating the results of archaeological excavation and study.

The project team continues to make presentations at conferences and to publish articles about the Journal. The most important of which this year were the presentation in Seattle and our article in Antiquity.

iv. Cultural change
This has taken longer than anticipated. There are a range of reasons for this, such as the reluctance of the HE community and Internet communities to accept charging at the point of use. We put considerable effort into encouraging culture change and have begun to have an impact on traditional archaeological publishing through our promotional efforts. The site has been favourably reviewed in academic journals, published material which has been reused by other scholars, and gained international recognition. We have conducted liaison meetings with a range of key archaeological organisations. As a result a number of large funding bodies including English Heritage, the Humanities Research Board, and Historic Scotland have taken an interest in the work of the project and have recognised the benefits of electronic publication as a result of evaluating the work of Internet Archaeology. The project believes that this is a slow process, but that gradually electronic publication in archaeology will be established as the primary carrier.

v. Cost-effectiveness/value-added
The project is run on a very tight budget, but the argument as to whether or not electronic publication is more cost effective than traditional print has not been answered so far. What is clear is that electronic publication adds value which would never be possible in print (e.g. the ability to publish databases, dynamic models, a full range of images), though at a cost.

vi. Sustainability
The project team continues to put a great deal of effort into promotion and marketing. These activities have succeeded in keeping the profile of the journal high. Ultimately the sustainability of the journal will depend upon our being able to make the transition to a self-funding organisation. This change will take place during the second phase of the project, but the increasing readership, the substantial resource which the journal has developed during the past three years, and the innovative uses the project has made of the technology should make this transition possible.

vii. Demand/usefulness/performance
There are encouraging signs that Internet Archaeology has now been able to establish credibility as a permanent journal of record and as a result we have secured publication contracts which generate revenue for the journal. The numbers of users continues to rise and it has more than doubled during the past year and the number of pages we have served up has nearly doubled.

viii. Future scenarios
During the coming year the journal will continue to publish two issues a year. Issues have in the past contained five contributions, some of traditional length and other monograph length. These contributions make innovative use of the technologies supported by the Web. With each issue we aim to demonstrate the possibilities of a range of other media (e.g. video and sound) and a variety of tools (Java Applets).

ix. Contribution to overall project goals
The journal continues to make a major contribution to the innovative use of technology for electronic publishing. It has broken new barriers in electronic publication and shown readers the potential breadth of the medium.

4. Future development

i. Main objectives during the coming year

ii. Planned changes in overall direction
We do not anticipate any major changes in direction. We are putting more emphasis on increasing our readership, revenue generation, and increasing the quantities of quality contributions being offered to the journal.

iii. Development beyond project time frame
The journal has obtained core funding for a further three years:



Dr Michael Heyworth Dr Julian Richards Dr Seamus Ross
Council for British Archaeology Department of Archaeology Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute
Bowes Morrell House University of York University of Glasgow
111 Walmgate The King's Manor 6 University Gardens
York YO1 9WA York YO1 2EP Glasgow G12 8QQ
tel 01904 671417 tel 01904 433930 tel 0141 330 4980
fax 01904 671384 fax 01904 433902 -
email m.heyworth@dial.pipex.com email jdr1@york.ac.uk email seamusr@arts.gla.ac.uk

13 August 1998

List of appendices

  1. Table of contents of third and fourth issues, 1997-1998
  2. Forthcoming contributions
  3. List of formal presentations undertaken
  4. List of published papers about the journal
  5. Financial report (to 30 July 1998) and projections
  6. Steering Committee minutes
  7. Editorial Board
  8. Technical Panel minutes
  9. Web server statistics for Internet Archaeology (1 August 1997 31 July 1998)
  10. Business plan 1998-2001
  11. Year 2000 compliance.Appendix I

Appendix II

Forthcoming contributions

Appendix III

List of formal presentations undertaken

1997
August
27th-29th: Julian Richards spoke at BULISC '97 New tricks 2: eLib & telematics: projects & partnerships' at Bournemouth University.

September
9th-11th: Sandra Garside-Neville (together with Alicia Wise of the Archaeology Data Service) ran a workshop entitled Publication and preservation on the Internet' at the Institute of Field Archaeologist's Archaeology in Britain 1997' conference at the University of Manchester. There was also a demonstration stand running throughout the conference.
14th-17th: Seamus Ross spoke about Internet Archaeology: success and lessons' at the Digital Resources for the Humanities 97' conference at the University of Oxford.

October
1st-4th: Alan Vince set up a poster display and demonstration stand at the Medieval Europe 1997' conference in Brugges, Belgium.

November
12th: Sandra Garside-Neville hosted a drop in session in the journal's office for archaeologists attending a conference in the University of York.

1998
March
21st-22nd: Julian Richards spoke on Electronic archiving and publication: disseminating the data in 2000 + or -?' at the Irish Association of Professional Archaeologists' spring conference in County Galway.
25th-28th: Sandra Garside-Neville represented the journal at the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology conference in Barcelona, Spain.
25th-29th: Julian Richards represented the journal and presented a paper on the journal to the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Seattle, USA.

April
22nd-24th: Alan Vince spoke at the Advances in Digital Libraries 1998 conference in Santa Barbara, California. .Appendix IV

List of published papers about the journal
Gigi Signorelli My first approach to and the use of the Archaeobotanical Computer Database', Archaeology Data Service NEWS, Issue 2 Autumn 1997.
M Heyworth, J Richards, S Ross and A Vince Internet Archaeology: an international electronic journal for archaeology', Sistemi informativi e reti geografiche in archaeologia: GIS-Internet, a cura di Antonio Gottarelli, 1997, 169-178. VII Ciclo di Lezioni sull Ricerca applicata in Archaeologia Certosa di Pontignano (Siena) 11-17 dicembre 1995.
Mike Heyworth, Julian Richards, Alan Vince, and Sandra Garside-Neville Internet Archaeology: a quality electronic journal', Antiquity, Vol 71, No 274, December 1997, 1039-43.
Robin Yeates Electronic Libraries Programme - Quietly getting results for HE', The Library Association Record: Year in Review 1997, 100(1), 12, January 1998.
Alan Vince Electronic journals and archiving', The Museum Archaeologist, Vol 23, 1998, 41-45. Conference Proceedings St Albans: Museums in the Landscape: Bridging the Gap.
Alan Vince and Sandra Garside-Neville, 1997 Publishing multimedia in archaeology', EVA '97 London conference proceedings: electronic imaging and the visual arts.

Appendix V


Financial report (to 31 July 1998) and projections

Appendix VI


Steering Committee minutes

The Project's Steering Committee met on one occasion: 16 March 1998

The newly enlarged Steering Committee will now meet on a bi-annual basis. The next meeting is due to take place on 4 November 1998..Appendix VII

Editorial Board

The Project's Editorial Board did not meet during the year as all its work was undertaken by email.

The Board has now been amalgamated with the Technical Panel to form an enlarged Steering Committee.

The newly enlarged Steering Committee will now meet on a bi-annual basis. The next meeting is due to take place on 4 November 1998.

Appendix VIII

Technical Panel minutes

The Project's Technical Panel met on two occasions: 17 September 1997 & 25 February 1998

The Panel has now been amalgamated with the Editorial Board to form an enlarged Steering Committee.

The newly enlarged Steering Committee will now meet on a bi-annual basis. The next meeting is due to take place on 4 November 1998.

Appendix IX

Web server statistics for Internet Archaeology, 1 August 1997 31 July 1998

Appendix X

Business plan 1998-2001

Appendix XI

Year 2000 compliance

Web Server
The Internet Archaeology web pages and catalogue are served by a Sun Ultra 2 1200. According to Sun Microsystems http://www.sun.com/y2000/cpl.html, both the hardware and operating system (Solaris 2.6) are Year 2000 compliant within Sun's definition of compliance http://www.sun.com/y2000/statement.html.

The web server software is version 1.3.0 of Apache. According to the Apache FAQ http://www.apache.org/docs/misc/FAQ.html#year2000 Apache is Year 2000 compliant.

Desktop PCs
Internet Archaeology staff make use of a number of Intel-based PCs running Windows95 for day-to-day work. These machines are supported by the University's Computing Service, and are covered by the university-wide steps being taken to address this problem http://www.york.ac.uk/services/cserv/offdocs/y2k.htm.


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