[Internet Archaeology]

Internet Archaeology Archive: First annual report 1995-96

I. Background and setup phase

Our main objective is to produce and disseminate an international electronic journal for archaeology accessible via the Internet. The journal, Internet Archaeology, publishes the results of archaeological research, including excavation reports (text, photographs, data, drawings, reconstructions, diagrams, interpretations), analyses of large data sets along with the data itself, visualisations, programs used to analyse data, and applications of information technology in archaeology: for example, geographical information systems and computer modelling. The journal is managed by a consortium of institutions including the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, the Council for British Archaeology, and the British Academy.

The project officially began on 1 August 1995, although the project planning had begun earlier, and the setup phase was completed on schedule by 1 February 1996. During the setup period we succeeded in (1) appointing the Managing Editor, Dr Alan Vince (2) purchasing, installing, and configuring the development hardware (Silicon Graphics Indy); (3) evaluating, selecting, and installing the web server which the project would use during, at least, its first year; (3) setting up our home page http://intarch.ac.uk from which users could obtain information about the project, details about how to contribute articles to the journal, and access a sample article providing readers with an indication of the advantages which electronic publication offers over more conventional print publication; (4) establishing the three Committees which would manage the various aspects of the project: a Steering Committee to oversee the project as a whole with Professor Barry Cunliffe CBE FBA FSA as its Chair, an Editorial Board to manage the selection and production of high quality archaeological content material, and a Technical Panel responsible for the development of a technical infrastructure capable of meeting the needs of the project; (5) liaising with archaeological organisations to seek support in the establishment and management of the journal; (6) delivering a series of presentations to improve awareness about the project, its journal and other objectives to a wider audience; (7) identifying the standards and documentation guidelines which would be used for the duration of the project; and (8) selecting a core set of articles from which we could draw enough material to produce the first issue and begin planning, at least in outline, for subsequent issues.

II. Activities and projects
i. Major objectives
The project set out with four main objectives: (1) the production of a regular electronic journal; (2) the development of a detailed description of the process of establishing and managing an electronic journal; (3) the definition of a suite of access and navigation tools that will allow the readers to use the journal; and, (4) to make a contribution to cultural change through the increased use of electronic media.

During the past year the major focus of our efforts has been on putting in place an infrastructure, both managerial and technical, that will support the publication of a high-quality scholarly journal and the production of its first issue. The development team agreed that with such an infrastructure in place the production of further issues would be hugely eased. While this has gone on the participants in the project have examined a range of issues from long term preservation and access to subscriptions, from author and reader licensing to protection of copyright and IPR, from definition of standards to the identification of potential members of the editorial advisory board and authors.

Our process for achieving these objectives was outlined in the original project proposal and the project has with only two exceptions followed this original plan without deviation.

ii. Main activities
The main objectives of the project since the set up phase finished (on 1 February 1996) have been on producing the first issue. This issue will include seven articles (see Appendix I for a list). Some of these articles are the equivalent in traditional publishing terms of a monograph, others are large databases, and still others are multimedia presentations. To deliver the journal the project has completed the installation of the delivery server as projected in the original plan. The delivery server is located in the Computing Service at the University of York to take advantage of the University's high-bandwidth connection to wide-area networking. In addition we have secured a series of additional articles which will be published in future issues and lengthy abstracts about many of these have been placed on the project's web server to give readers a glimpse at the direction and future offerings of the journal.

iii. Description of outputs from research
The main output of the journal will be the first issue which will be published on the 6th of September. In the course of preparing this issue, the management committees (Steering Committee, Technical Panel, and Editorial Board) debated and reached agreement on a range of issues: citation standards, selecting the web server, licensing arrangements, the management of copyright and intellectual property rights, subscriptions and refereeing. The minutes of the meetings which discussed these issues are presented in Appendices III through V and form one of the outputs of the project. The other outputs include the configuration of the hardware and software, the delivery of presentation and publications about the project and journal, the production of the project's homepage, its demonstration article, and shortly the first issue. To prepare the journal the project established a system supporting online refereeing. This allows reviewers and members of the editorial board and technical panel to evaluate and provide comments on (throughout the paper and not at the beginning or end only) the article itself.

iv. Successes to report
By the beginning of November (1995) we had established the journal's homepage and had a single sample article on Roman Amphoras available online. The first demonstration paper, based on Paul Tyer's study of amphoras in Roman Britain, showed the potential of the Journal for electronic dissemination of information. This was extremely important because it provided us with an early opportunity to demonstrate the viability of the concept and to provide both potential authors and future readers with an indication of the variety of presentational techniques that the publication of this kind made possible. As explained below (section IV.v, Sustainability) the project has published a number of articles and delivered a series of presentations describing its objectives and demonstrating the advantages of electronic publication. These have been well-received and have encouraged potential authors to contribute to the journal. The responses from readers who have visited our homepages have been positive, as well. The project has succeeded in developing a series of seven studies for publication in its first issue. This has meant the almost complete redesign of many articles so that they can be presented in online.

III. Learning from the process of implementation
i. Difficulties managing project and meeting objectives
The management of the project has not been without difficulties. But many of these were obstacles which we projected at the outset the project would need to address. Only in the area of staffing did the project encounter a difficulty that the project had not expected.

a. Staffing problems
In the original plan it was projected that a single member of staff would be required who would act in the capacity of Managing Editor. However, it proved impossible to find a single individual with the mix of skills necessary within the available budget. The project team agreed that the Managing Editor needed to be an archaeologist with a track record in research and publication. In addition, this person would need to be computer literate (though this would not necessarily extend to programming skills), have a familiarity with the Internet and what is now technically possible in a networked environment, and have some experience of working in a UNIX environment. Editorial and design skills would also be an advantage. The project quickly discovered that, even in archaeology which is by humanities standards a very computer literate discipline, staff of this kind are extremely expensive. A careful evaluation of the work that the Managing Editor would need to undertake indicated that there were a range of tasks which could be carried out more cost effectively by less qualified staff. As a result the project decided to appoint a part-time Managing Editor and a full-time editorial assistant who would devote large amounts of time to more routine data preparation activities. To do this required some reallocation of tasks and expenditure. The opportunity was also taken to appoint an Editorial Assistant with a library/information background to bring extra skills to the project. The project appointed Dr Alan Vince to the post of Managing Editor beginning on 1 October 1995 and Sandra Garside-Neville as Assistant Editor from 5 March 1996. Secretarial support for both posts was also provided through the University of York Department of Archaeology at minimal cost through a jobshare arrangement. It was agreed that this offered the project a better balance of staff than the original plan would have provided.

b. Technical requirements and changes
In the original plan the purchase of two Silcon Graphics machines had been planned: a development machine and a delivery machine. These were purchased and installed. It became clear, however, that the project had a requirement for a portable computer so that the Managing Editor could make presentations about the journal effectively. Also, we found it necessary to purchase a scanner and a laser printer. Although we had anticipated all the material would be provided in electronic form this proved to be not to be possible with the initial contributions offered. To capture much of the image material a scanner proved essential. It also proved rather wishful thinking that the project could undertake its work without any printing facilities, so we found it necessary to purchase a laser printer for the project office.

The project also found that the task of managing reader registration was more difficult than expected. This reflected the variety of ways in which potential readers might access the journal. In the end we have only worked out a temporary, but simple, solution of reader registration and will return to the issue of reader registration and validation when the journal begins charging for access.

The project found that it was necessary to test the articles using a variety of different browsers because of the variation in how different browsers handle HTML. Even in the area of HTML there were problems because it was not possible to use the HTML3.0 standard - or even now the 3.2 standard - as few browsers supported it at the start of the project - and many still don't.

c. Increased costs
While not having found that costs were higher than anticipated what we have concluded is that the costs of running an electronic journal are not lower than those associated with a more traditional print journal and indeed may in the long term, when issues such as preservation and long term access are taken into account, be higher. However, the advantages which electronic publication brings to scholars outweigh any lack of savings. A further and more immediate realisation is that where we included purchase and maintenance costs for hardware and software in the infrastructure startup costs we did not take into account renewal costs. While this has no impact on the project during its three-year eLib life, we need now to begin to consider how these additional infrastructure costs can be met in the future. So while the near-term costs remain within our expectations, in the medium term we will need to generate revenue of higher-than-anticipated levels to support renewal of our hardware and software systems. As explained in section f below we are actively investigating ways to address this financial issue.

d. Refereeing
A major factor influencing the success of the journal is the refereeing of contributions. We are working to establish an international advisory editorial panel. Board members have three main functions: promoting the Journal, refereeing contributions, and advising the Managing Editor on possible contributors. The panel are being chosen to reflect the full geographical and chronological range of the Journal. At the same time we have put considerable effort into the development of an online refereeing system which is now fully operative and allows referees to directly submit their comments whilst browsing the contributions.

e. Standards & documentation
Early on we agreed that only through the application of suitable standards was it going to be possible for us to deliver a viable electronic journal. We found the task of defining which standards we would use daunting. When the eLib standards guide became available we examined how well it met the needs of the journal and found, that with a few exceptions such as our requirement for DXF files formats, it provided an adequate backdrop for our purposes.

A further area in which we found standardisation necessary was in web servers. Servers have different levels of functionality and the project found it necessary to examine a variety of web servers and to acknowledge that by selecting one web server rather than another represented a range of tradeoffs which might have some longer term impact on the migration of articles in our journal from one environment to another.

The project agreed that because articles were composed of material in a variety of data-types and managed by a number of scripts it was necessary to develop documentation standards. Electronic articles require a huge amount of documentation if they are to remain portable. Portability is essential to assure long term accessibility. A description of the process of how files and programs interrelated (possibly as a process map), a description of what the programs (or scripts) did, details about how information was structured, and information about any special environmental conditions (eg operating system) is being created and maintained for each article published by the journal.

f. Licencing & liability
A major concern of the journal is to protect the rights of authors and to protect its rights in the material that it has published. After some discussion the Technical Panel concluded that this could best be done with an author licence and a reader licence. In the Author Licence the author grants the journal a non-exclusive licence to distribute their material electronically. In designing and developing this concept the journal found itself very much alone among the other eLib projects. In this area there was general feeling that some assistance from the project as a whole would have been helpful.

The project also wishes to regularly remind its readers of their obligation to respect the rights of the journal and the authors in their use of the material it contains. It was felt that some form of online licence would provide the necessary protection. With the publication of the first issue the journal will be trying out one such licence. It requires that the user acknowledge a notice which grants them a licence to use the material, requires they cite the material, and that they agree not to make claims against the journal for remuneration as a result of their use of the material it contains.

The project is still greatly concerned about the issues of liability which might arise from the use of its material by archaeological units, and developers. We have not yet reached a conclusion as to how we can protect ourselves from liability which might arise from the misinterpretation or decisions which might be erroneously made as result of use of the data. We are actively investigating this problem currently.

g. Income generation
One of the major issues confronting us was our ambitious income generation plans. The expectation that the journal would be completely self-financing after three years sets us a complex fund-raising task. A great deal of investigation focused on the issues of subscriptions, subventions, and sponsorship.

We began the project with the idea that by our second year we would be generating income from subscriptions. Much debate both in our Technical Panel and Steering Committee meetings was devoted to how this could best be done. We reached agreement about a subscription strategy. We agreed that student subscriptions be set at £ 15, £ 25 for personal subscriptions, and starting at £ 50 for multiple access licences (MAL) for institutions. The MALs would be licences for a maximum number of access-points (eg terminals or PCS) and simultaneous readers, and would restrict the use of proxy servers and web caching. The licence agreement will restrict the designated access machines to open access machines. The starting number of MALs and how they would step up from there would need to be defined. It was acknowledged that while the institutional subscription level was lower than the average it might be difficult to convince librarians to purchase subscriptions to a new journal in the current economic climate.

However, we also concluded that the sale of subscriptions was going to be difficult, time consuming and counter-cultural in a world which expects information supplied via the Internet to be free. There are two solutions open to us, besides attempting to manage a substantial culture change: (1) selling national site licences and (2) publication subventions. The latter is uniquely possible in archaeology because research units, national funding agencies and developers have traditionally acted to underwrite the costs of conventional print publication. While in the medium term (5 to 10 years) this may offer us a suitable mode of income generation to sustain the journal, during the initial phase, when the journal is developing a critical mass of articles, building its reputation as a scholarly journal of choice and addressing the problems of preservation and long term access, it is unlikely that subventions will provide a suitable income stream. The issue of income generation remains one of the key areas on which we will focus attention during the coming year.

h. Preservation and access
Before launching the journal the project team was well aware that a major difficulty with electronic publication is preservation and continued access in the face of media and technological (ie software and hardware) obsolescence. Archaeology is unique among scholarly disciplines in that where the object of its study is an archaeological site it destroys the object during the process of recording it. For this reason and because archaeological research is hugely expensive the project is concerned to provide secure preservation. In order to convince funding agencies that this is an acceptable way of disseminating the results of research we must overcome this difficulty. The project efforts were greatly encouraged by the granting of the contract to manage th e Archaeology Data Service (ADS) of the Arts and Humanities Data Service to a consortium led by the University of York. This close affiliation between the journal and the ADS means that the question of preservation can be tackled in a more general way than might otherwise have been possible.

ii. Changes to our plan and reasons for change
a. aims & objectives
There have been no changes to our aims and objectives since the project was launched.

b. staffing structure
The staffing structure is different as is explained in III.i.a from that originally envisage in the project plan.

c. funding problem
Under income generation in III.i.g the funding problem is discussed. The potential difficulty is not caused by a change in the project plan but by a limited experience in income generation from subscriptions by electronic journals.

iii. Unexpected opportunities/outcomes
Our plan fairly well anticipated our objectives. The fundamental difference is that where we had planned to employ a single member of staff we have now opted for a part-time Managing Editor and a full-time Assistant Editor - for reasons discussed above (III.i.a).

One discovery which we made early on was that the whole idea of an article is transformed by electronic publication. Whereas in print articles were of a relatively fixed length and type in the electronic environment they are quite different. They can consist of databases as readily as extended multimedia essays.

IV. Interim evaluation results
The general reception of our work so far, as measured by the number of potential authors and readers who have contacted us after visiting the journal's home pages or seen a presentation suggests that we are developing a service which the archaeological information creating and using community finds attractive. The progress on the production of the first issue is on target with our original projections and we shall be closing the first issue on 31 August. We have developed a number of reusable features including search functions, timelines and clickable maps to provide a core set of access tools to allow users to dip into the articles in a variety of ways. We also learned new concepts about the relationship between kinds of data. Whereas in conventional publication the text refers the reader to the illustrations we now can deliver access bi-directionally, which is more in keeping with how archaeologists actually work. At the same time we have sorted out successfully the processes of online refereeing and user registration. Overall, if we sense there are hurdles to cross they are in relation to financial issues of a post-three year nature and not to the successful delivery of the journal, its use by scholars, or to its viability during the course of the eL ib programme.

ii. Mobilisation
The journal is managed by a consortium of departments involved in archaeology in higher education and by the Council for British Archaeology and the British Academy. As such it is working to increase awareness among the archaeological community to the benefits of electronic publication.

This is being tackled in a number of ways, including direct approaches to significant national organisations, lectures and seminars at important archaeological conferences, and holding occasional `focus group' meetings. The first focus group meeting was held in June at The British Academy aimed at other publishers of archaeological works and was well received. Much information was shared and as a result the attendees have subsequently disseminated further positive messages about the project through their own print publications.

iii. Culture change
There is little doubt that there is a gradual culture change taking place within archaeology as more and more of the community reaches the conclusion that electronic presentation and dissemination is more effective, efficient, and beneficial to the author and reader community. The journal itself can be said to have already contributed to this through its demonstrations of the advantages of this kind of publication. As we have progressed during the past year an increasing number of authors have come forward with proposals for articles and seeking ideas about how they could take advantage of this medium for presenting the results of archaeological research. So, as well as forming the basic resource for the journal, participants in the project have also become a resource for the community as a whole as they give guidance in the use of networked publication and the process of carrying it out.

iv. Cost-effectiveness/value-added
It is difficult to measure cost effectiveness since the ground-rules are different for electronic publication from print. Internet Archaeology publishes articles many of which are monograph in length or are databases. As a result the journal is radically different from anything that we might encounter in print. The real benefits to the author and reader come from the fact that electronic publication makes it possible to present material which in the past could not be presented and to investigate material in articles in new and different ways.

v. Sustainability
In developing a sustainable resource promotion and marketing are core activities. In promoting the journal the Managing Editor and members of the Steering Committee have delivered fourteen papers at conferences for archaeologists, librarians and information specialists (list in Appendix VI), published six papers with several more having been arranged, and secured the publication of information about the project in archaeological news publications and national newspapers. Numerous invitations have flowed from these efforts and these are being pursued. We discovered that efforts at marketing were made easier by community receptiveness, if not hunger for, a project of this kind.

Promotion and marketing, not surprisingly, serves a number of functions that will prove essential if Internet Archaeology is to provide an essential resource: (1) it increases awareness among potential authors and readers about the journal; (2) it helps to convince funding agencies and archaeological sponsors of the efficiency of electronic publication, and (3) promotes the concept of electronic journals in the minds of senior, and sometimes sceptical academics. We envisage a continuing need to carry out a range of marketing and promotion activities during the coming year(s) if we are to assure Internet Archaeology as a sustainable product.

vi. Measuring demand and usefulness

There is no doubt about the demand for publication in this form. During the past nine months the number of accesses of the journal's web pages has increased from 1,471 in January to 8,027 in July, with over 9,000 distinct hosts served between those months (inclusive). This is a positive response to what is not a full publication of the journal. When the first issue is released in early September it will be the first time the project will be able to get a full and accurate gauge of the demand for the journal itself. Based upon the brief indications so far we would expect that the demand would continue to be strong and increasing.

V. Future Development

i. Main objectives for the next reporting period

Our main objective for the next reporting period will be the publication of the second issue of the first volume of the journal and the first issues of the second volume. It is our intention that this issue should be more international in its coverage and this is a major focus of our efforts.

We will also be making efforts to evaluate the response to our first issue and review our plans according to the lessons learned.

ii. Changes in overall direction

Fundamentally, work on the project has reinforced our earlier plans although in the area of income generation we believe that there is significant work yet to be carried out.

iii. Development of project beyond the time frame

As mentioned throughout this report the focus of our efforts are on the development of a journal which will be viable long beyond the three years of initial support. To meet this objective we are establishing the journal as a Charitable Trust as outlined in our original proposal. The journal is also investigating how it might develop links with other archaeological publishing groups to support our work.

Dr Mike HeyworthDr Julian RichardsDr Seamus Ross
Council for British ArchaeologyDept of ArchaeologyBritish Academy
Bowes Morrell HouseUniversity of York20-21 Cronwall Terrace
111 WalmgateThe King's ManorLONDON
Tel: 01904 67141 7Tel: 01904 422930Tel: 0171 4875966
Fax: 01904 671384Fax: 01904 433902Fax: 0171 2243807
Email: m.heyworth@dial.pipex.comEmail:jdr1@york.ac.ukEmail: seamus@britac.ac.uk

13 August 1996


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