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The Survey: Publication media

(i) Access

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents have access to a society/university/institutional library with good archaeological coverage and microfiche readers. This proportion is likely to remain stable, as very few people who currently do not have access stated that they had plans to gain it.

Between 49% and 60% of the sample currently have access to all other forms of media. Those based within a university are most likely to have access to the Internet and CD-ROM. In other constituencies, most of those who do not have access to the Internet intend to gain it in the next five years, but the proportion that intend to gain access to CD-ROM in the next five years is much smaller. A noticeably low proportion of independent archaeologists and members of local societies have access to the Internet and CD-ROM and a high proportion of those without access have no plans to obtain it.

Respondents were asked to grade in order of preference: published books and journals; photocopies and computer print out; computer screen; and microfiche reader. An overwhelming 92% placed books and journals first. 77% rank photocopies second, 65% rank computer screens third, and 73% rank microfiche readers fourth.

(ii) Computerised services

Respondents were asked how useful they found a range of computerised services. Seventy per cent said that computerised library catalogues were either useful or sometimes so. The figure drops to about 40% for bibliographic databases, archaeological publications on the Internet and institutional/personal web sites. A high percentage of respondents selected the 'don't know' category.

(iii) Publication mechanisms

Print is the favoured medium for all types of archaeological publication. Nevertheless, about 30% said that they would like to see the Internet used for fieldwork publications, national, regional and local archaeological journals and grey literature. The Internet was less popular as a publication mechanism for period and regional syntheses, theoretical and methodological books, heritage and management books, and popular archaeological publications. Over 20% said they would like to see CD-ROM being used for popular archaeological and fieldwork publications.

If the same analysis is carried out solely on the basis of those individuals with current access to the Internet and CD-ROM, the figures concerning the use of these media rise by about 10% in each case. Nevertheless, even in this sub-set, print clearly remains the most popular medium (save for grey literature, where numbers are equally divided between print and the Internet).

(iv) Fieldwork publication on the Internet

Just under a third of the total sample had used archaeological fieldwork publications on the Internet. Only 47% of those with current Internet access had used the Internet for this purpose. This shows that access is not the main factor contributing to the dearth of use. Analysis by age shows that use falls rapidly amongst those aged 55 or over.

Among those who had used fieldwork publications on the Internet, only 15% felt they were better than conventional print in respect to the presentation of data, whilst only 19% felt that they were better in terms of the presentation of graphic material. In contrast, 33% felt that they were worse in the presentation of data, and 46% thought worse in terms of graphics.

However, 41% felt electronic search facilities were better than conventional indexes, while 18% felt they were worse. In comparing the non-linear, hypertext narrative associated with electronic publications with the conventional linear narrative of print publications, respondents were divided, with 21% finding electronic publications better, and 17% worse.

How could publication on the Internet be improved? Twenty-four per cent of respondents felt that the incorporation of 3D modelling, video and sound would be 'very useful' and 40% felt that it would be 'somewhat useful'. Fifty-two per cent said project archives should be available on the Internet, with only 19% stating that they should not. (The proportion wanting archives on the Internet rises by about 8% among those aged 1934, and by about 12% among those with current access to the Internet.)

Thirty-seven per cent of the sample said they would be happy to buy access to fieldwork publications on the Internet if they could browse them first, while 28% said they would not. (Of those with Internet access, the figures are 45% and 28% respectively). A high level of respondents ticked the 'don't know' category.


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Last updated: Tue Oct 21 2003