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Data Management Policies and Practices of Digital Archaeological Repositories

Guntram Geser, Julian D. Richards, Flavia Massara and Holly Wright

Cite this as: Geser, G., Richards, J.D., Massara, F. and Wright, H. 2022 Data Management Policies and Practices of Digital Archaeological Repositories, Internet Archaeology 59.


This article presents the results of a survey of data management policies and practices of digital archaeological repositories in Europe and beyond. The survey was carried out in 2021 under the auspices of the European project ARIADNEplus and the COST Action SEADDA. Its main purpose was to collect and analyse information about current policies that determine access to and reuse of data held by digital archaeological repositories, and to investigate the guidance and support needed to make these repositories and data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable).

These policies comprise the regulations of heritage and research authorities/agencies, councils and other institutions at different levels (European, national/regional, local) as well as the repository rules governing deposition, access to, and reuse of archaeological data. The repositories are operated both by heritage sector institutions and by the research and higher education sector.

The survey represents a bottom-up approach by focusing on the actual policies and practices of digital archaeological repositories, which may reflect higher level regulations. A reality check in this regard can enable heritage and research authorities, councils and other institutions to reinforce or put in place regulations that bring current repository policies and practices closer to the ideal of providing FAIR and open access data. The survey results show that there is room for improvement in this regard and some suggestions are made here for future initiatives.

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  • Keywords: archaeological data management, digital repositories, FAIR principles, Open Access
  • Accepted: 2 Feb 2022. Published: 28 March 2022
  • Funding: This article was funded by SEADDA as part of COST Action 18128, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology).
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Corresponding author: Julian D. RichardsORCID logo
Archaeology Data Service, UK

Guntram GeserORCID logo
Salzburg Research Institute, Austria

Flavia MassaraORCID logo
Central Institute for the Union Catalogue of Italian Libraries, Italy

Holly WrightORCID logo
Archaeology Data Service, UK

Full text

Figure 1: Pie chart showing distribution of types of organisation at which repositories are based. N=60

Figure 2: Pie chart showing main tasks/responsibilities of survey respondents. N=60

Figure 3: Bar chart showing number of staff members per repository. N=55

Figure 4: Bar chart showing number of years for which repositories have been in operation. N=41

Figure 5: Pie chart showing which types of archaeological projects are deposited at surveyed repositories. N=60

Figure 6: Bar chart showing the length of time after completion of archaeological fieldwork by which data is usually provided to the repository. N=60

Figure 7: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories where a deposit charge is levied. N=59

Figure 8: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories where depositors can set an embargo period. N=60

Figure 9: Bar chart showing measures applied concerning personal data related to or within deposited content? N=60

Figure 10: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories using external vs internal solutions for long-term storage and preservation. N=60

Figure 11: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories where deposited data are assigned globally unique and persistent identifiers. N=60

Figure 12: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories where deposited data are described with rich metadata. N=60

Figure 13: Pie chart showing vocabularies supported. N=60

Figure 14: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories that provide a metadata search interface. N=60

Figure 15: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories that make metadata available to external search platforms or engines. N=60

Figure 16: Pie chart showing repository policy on copyright in deposited data. N=60

Figure 17: Pie chart showing licence frameworks supported. N=60

Figure 18: Pie chart showing which factors repositories felt would most help support open data access and reuse policies. N=56

Figure 19: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories for which national legislation determines which archaeological documentation has to be provided to a repository. N=60

Figure 20: Pie chart showing proportion of European Union repositories believed to fall under the Directive (EU) 2019/1024. N=46

Figure 21: Pie chart showing means by which users can access data in the repository. N=60

Figure 22: Bar chart showing what repositories felt would help them most to improve data access. N=60

Figure 23: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories which collect and analyse access data. N=56

Figure 24: Pie chart showing whether repositories had an increase or decrease of access during the COVID-19 pandemic. N=27

Figure 25: Pie chart showing proportion of repositories which collect information about data reuse. N=56

Table 1: Number of repositories per country present in the survey. N=60

Table 2: The repository is (will be) based at (the selected type of organisation). N=60

Table 3: What are your main tasks/responsibilities? (multiple answers possible). N=60

Table 4: How many members of staff work for the repository? Consider only members whose work relates mainly or in substantial part to the repository. N=55

Table 5: How long has the digital repository already been operative? N=41

Table 6: Results of what archaeology related work is (will be) deposited in your repository? Select only 2 options most important for your repository. N=60

Table 7: What vocabulary does the repository support? N=60

Table 8: What is your organisation's policy on copyright in deposited archaeological work (e.g. reports, data)? N=60

Table 9: Which licence frameworks does the repository support? N=60

Table 10: What would help the repository most to support open data access and reuse policies? N=56

Table 11: How can people access data in the repository? N=60

Table 12: What would help the repository most for improving data access? N=60

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