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Publican Project Survey Results

Halfway House at Gweedore, Co. Donegal, probably by Robert French c.1884. National Library of Ireland on The Commons, Ref.: L_ROY_01372.
Halfway House at Gweedore, Co. Donegal, probably by Robert French
c.1884. National Library of Ireland on The Commons, Ref.: L_ROY_01372.
No known copyright restrictions

Executive summary

Report by Nicole Beale

View full text report here.

In June-July 2017, the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) and Internet Archaeology invited the archaeological community to contribute to a study aimed at building a picture of the impact that the resources which they provide for the digital dissemination of archaeological outputs are having on the profession.

Individuals from commercial units, local and national government, independent consultants, freelance specialists and civil society (i.e. independent bodies, charities, NGOs) responded to an online survey that asked questions about current practice around archiving and publishing findings from archaeological work. Some of these respondents offered to take part in follow-up semi-structured telephone interviews, during which additional comments and suggestions were noted.

The results of this work are presented in this report. This work forms part of a broader project, PUBLICAN, conducted by the ADS and Internet Archaeology and funded by the University of York. PUBLICAN ran from April 2017 to July 2017 and aimed to conduct impact-generating activities for both ADS and Internet Archaeology that could contribute to the organisations' understanding of how current workflows, profile-building activities, and stakeholder perceptions were impacting on the effect of ADS/Internet Archaeology resources on archaeology.

Survey and interview participants

75 individuals took part in the study, filling in the online survey, and of this total, 28 volunteered to be interviewed. Not all volunteers were interviewed, due to the time constraints of the study. An additional 3 participants were interviewed, identified by Internet Archaeology and ADS as key stakeholders. The sample for this study was fairly representative of the make-up of professional archaeology in England. Commercial archaeology units were slightly under-represented and local government slightly over represented. The roles of participants was, however, representative of the breakdown of skills within the profession as a whole.

Evidence for REF submission

This work has produced a collection of evidence for use as part of an internal REF case study submission. Relevant quotes from participants have been categorised and saved in a centralised repository for re-use in the future for marketing materials as well as for REF evidence. The report from this study and transcripts has provided a basis for a system for collecting new evidence in the future. This has been established and shared with ADS and Internet Archaeology. The key findings are outlined below.

Key findings

Use of ADS and Internet Archaeology

The findings from the survey showed that the ADS was used by most participants once a month or once a week, whereas Internet Archaeology was used a few times per year by half of the participants. This means that users of Internet Archaeology may be experiencing a considerable learning curve for each visit, as use is infrequent.

Open access

There is some work required to clarify in the profession the responsibility of the cost of open access publication, particularly at what point open access should be mandated/recommended. The main finding from the interviews is that commercial units and freelance specialists are willing to incorporate resources for open access into planned work, but that for this to occur, a substantial change in recommendations and support is required from local government archaeologists and curators.

Significance of ADS

This study found that the ADS is having a positive impact on practice in the following areas:

Challenges and barriers for ADS

Peer review and validation were seen as most significant factors for digital dissemination to occur, alongside content being free to access.

When asked to identify challenges, the key concerns were:

Barriers to submitting to ADS:

Challenges and barriers for Internet Archaeology

Internet Archaeology has contributed positively to the profession through:

Challenges for Internet Archaeology:

Barriers to publishing with Internet Archaeology:

Key stakeholders requiring attention


Internet Archaeology is an open access journal based in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.

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