From The Ground Up

The Publication of Archaeological Projects

a user needs survey



Appendix 5.1: Interview 1 Analysis

34 interviews were available for analysis

(1) University staff/National Society Representative

To gather materials for teaching; research.

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: 3

(2) University staff

Teaching; synthetic work; reworking sites (needs a lot of the detail for this)

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(3) Specialist

Comparative pottery (artefacts reports) and to increase general knowledge of the area.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(4) Archaeological scientist

As a specialist; more generally to pick up on general trends from thematic and synthetic publications.

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: 3

(5) Museum archaeologist

Research (detailed finds records, structural reports, etc)

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: 3

(6) Specialist

Specific information on a particular site; methodology; specific aspects of specialism.

Interview classification: 1 Original classification: 1

(7) Museum archaeologist

Scans a lot of publications then uses most useful ones in more detail.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 3

(8) Specialist

Uses publications for finds work - 90% of the time looks at the finds reports.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: -

(10) Consultant

More likely to look at synthetic works rather than fieldwork reports in consultancy work. For research - looks at detailed fieldwork reports.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(11) Specialist

Uses fieldwork reports for comparative material.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(12) Contractor

Uses fieldwork reports as a source for desktop study - uses the introduction, discussion and conclusions, not the stratigraphy.

Interview classification: 1 Original classification: 1

(13) Contractor

Uses fieldwork publications to provide comparative examples and for personal reading and background information.

Interview classification: 1 Original classification: 1

(14) University staff

Uses fieldwork publications as sources of primary data, primarily for analytical work.

Interview classification: 1 Original classification: 1

(15) Postgraduate

Use - for own research, to find material for exhibition, comparative material when writing finds reports.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(16) University/college staff

Zooarchaeological reports for background. Also site background. Standards and contents are very variable - uses primary data and summary format.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(18) Curator

Uses fieldwork reports in preparing reports for RCAHMS. Uses site plans, survey descriptions, etc.

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: 3

(19) Curator

Uses fieldwork publications for research and publication. Would use both synthesis and specific details.

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: -

(20) University/college staff

Doesn't use publications very often for teaching - not much in her field relevant to students. Uses more integrated sources. Uses fieldwork publications for own research.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(21) Curator

Uses fieldwork publications as a source of general information. Uses the overview and the discussion rather than specific details.

Interview classification: 4 Original classification: 4

(22) Museum archaeologist

Uses publications to synthesise for other museum publications. Draws mainly on the overview and the artefacts list.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 3

(24) Curator

Uses fieldwork publications for writing academic papers, excavation reports and to set briefs.

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: 3

(25) Curator

Uses reports to construct syntheses.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(26) Museum Archaeologist

Reports used to gain an overview - uses discussion/synthetic section. Interested in how artefacts were deposited.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(27) University/college

Engaged in interpretative archaeology - relies on other people's published work. Usually uses the appendices.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 1

(28) University/college

Uses fieldwork publications for teaching and research. Encourages the students to reinterpret and reassess.

Interview classification: 3/4 Original classification: 3/4

(29) Curator

Research in relation to excavations. PhD research. Planning.

Interview classification: 1 Original classification: 1

(30) Curator

Uses fieldwork publications for research and desk-based study.

Needs the detailed reports to do the assessment. Different use for own research - would use only certain aspects.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(31) Curator

Uses reports to research and to gather basic information for the sites and monuments record.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 1

(33) Contractor

Uses fieldwork publications to obtain an overall view of a site, or as a specialist. Uses them to get background and find parallels.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 1

(34) University staff (historian)

For research - dating information, and for teaching.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2/3

(35) Museum archaeologist

Uses publications to inform himself of the academic content of the fieldwork. If using excavation reports would go for conclusions, figures and artefact reports.

Interview classification: 1 Original classification: 1

(36) Museum archaeologist

Uses publications for research and to help with documentation of the collections.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2

(37) Curator

Uses fieldwork publications to obtain background information on area of interest. Mainly syntheses.

Interview classification: 3 Original classification: 3

(40) Postgrad

Research for PhD and background for animal bone reports.

Interview classification: 2 Original classification: 2


Group 1: extensive description and minimal analysis

Group 2: extensive description and analysis

Group 3: selective description with analysis

Group 4: brief summary plus archiving

How useful do you find the archives?

Group 1

(6) Archives are vital but major problem is knowing where they are. Often still with units who can't facilitate researchers.

(12) Doesn't use archives at desktop stage but would use them at post-ex stage. Trying to locate the archives can be difficult. Not many archives are accessed at present. In the last 4 years people are holding onto archives rather than sending them to a museum. There should be a central register so that you know what is going on. A lot of the earlier archives have not been put in a museum or there is no public access to them.

(13) No time to go back to project archives.

(14) Archives - uses sites and monuments records/databases and Ancient Monuments laboratory reports. Usually accessing the skeletal remains - report isn't necessarily the bast structure for that kind of data. Archives - may be necessary if trying to do a reanalysis. Have to think of ways whereby the archive material and/or the site report are put on a computer and some level of access allowed to outside people.

(35) Has never gone back to the archives. Time is important - it is hard enough to get information out of the excavation reports. Would have to be a true obsessive to go back to the archives.

Group 2

(2) Archives - difficult to access.

(3) Uses archives often - as a curator they are at his disposal. Too many ways of compiling an archive. Not enough standards. Competitive tendering has led to a drop in standards. Archaeologists have to own up to their responsibilities and to recognise that the archive is the primary resource.

(7) Not much use of archives as has a full time job - difficult to get time off to visit. Archives are of considerable importance - museums should be stricter about how an archive is presented. At present archives are very variable in quality.

(8) Archives - not used due to time constraints. No point at which she would feel she needs to go back to the archive. There is a lot of variation in the quality of the archive.

(10) Has never used the archives. Would use the archives if the published information was not telling him what he needed, not answering the questions he was interested in. The problem is to know where an archive is, but there are also difficulties of physically going there.

(11) Archives - because of the nature of developer-funded work - short turnaround - doesn't have time to follow up be going to the archives. Would have liked to in some cases. Archives should be accessible. Publication should specify where the archive is. Should be some policing of archives to make sure they contain everything they should. Not all the information from specialists gets back into the main site archive.

(15) Rarely uses archives - much work is abroad. Difficult to physically access them. If archives were available through the internet it wouldn't be a problem - it would be a good compromise between publishing everything and having crucial information inaccessible because it is only in one place.

(16) Problem with the archives is limited availability. Many sites have not yet been archived. In Scotland the archives will go to the NMR in Edinburgh but many sites haven't reached that point yet. Would like to see the archive linked more fully to the publication - at present they are just linked by a few sentences. Archives are only as good as the people producing them - we need a reassessment of the archives as well as of publication.

(20) Would like archives to be more accessible. The archive should be accessible by computer. The other problem is knowing about the archive - depends on e-mails and personal comments. Would be useful if this information was on the Net.

(22) Sometimes uses the archive. Main problem with archives is inaccessibility.

(25) If doing a major project would go back to the archive. Would want to see process as well as data. Not happy for archiving without paper publication - all too easy to forget it is there.

(26) Rare to have to go back to the archives - would only do so in relation to specific research projects. The accessibility of archives has to improve. A major problem in developer-funded archaeology is the massive increase in low level archives, most of which are not disseminated in any way. Units should be encouraged to start an inventory of what exists.

(27) If needing archive material, usually goes back to the original author - has given up on attempting to chase stuff. Another problem is in relating the archive data to the final report with the use of interim codes, etc. In other areas of historical research, the maintaining of archives if considered to be a specialist profession. Historians don't expect to manage their own archives - maybe we need to address that. Especially if setting up a national archive - have to have supremely well qualified people with an enormous range of skills.

(31) Archive reports are only accessible if you are in the locality.

(33) Would go back to the archive if necessary but not an ideal situation as often the report can't be tracked down. Would be handier if on the Net. Digitised archives are a great idea in theory but the time and expense required would be huge and it won't happen.

(34) Almost never goes back to the archive.

(36) Has had problems with the archives she has used - some of the excavators were not very good at keeping records. N Ireland has no central body for holding of records - this is a big problem. At present public access to archives in N Ireland is limited if not impossible. Easy to produce guidelines, eg on archives, but difficult to enforce them.

(40) Rarely goes back to the archive - British and Irish publications are usually very full. Archives are not very accessible.

Group 3

(1) Archives - not much need - sometimes sends students to research. Would use archives only for a very detailed study.

(4) Uses archives if category of information needed is not in the publication; or to check something in the publication. Archives - incumbent on us to make sure that information is deposited and curated in a way that people can use it. Often people are not careful with their use of the archive - people are unhappy and so don't use them again.

(5) Would consult archives if looking at a new question.

(19) Would use archive records at some point.

(24) Hasn't had to use archive reports so far. Copies of every archive should rest with the Royal Commission.

(28) In Ireland a lot of excavations aren't published so the only hope is to try to see the artefact collection or to get access to the archive. Access can be difficult. Theoretically the archive is supposed to rest with the National Museum but this isn't happening. At present there is no quality in the archives.

(37) Rarely has to go back to archives - most excavations in Northern Ireland are highly detailed and published in Northern Irish journals.

Group 4

(21) Profession as a whole has not defined well enough how archives should be presented.

Why should archaeological fieldwork be published?

Group 1

(6) Publishing - to disseminate information.

(12) The aim of publication is dissemination of information. It is not a consultant's role to research or a developer's role to pay for research.

(13) Publishing is a matter of record - putting information into the public domain. The main aim is to characterise what was found rather than record in detail - this would be the lowest level. Sites tend to grade themselves into what level of publication is appropriate.

(14) Reasons to publish - dissemination of information, publicity and furtherance of academic careers.

(29) Not right to go out and dig a big site without publication. The public is entitled to know what is there - the information should be available to anyone.

(35) No research has happened until it is published. Printed page is the only acceptable form of publication.

Group 2

(2) Publish to disseminate findings of a project in a form accessible to a professional archaeologist.

(3) Publication - essentially the presentation of data.

(7) Whole point of interpreting fieldwork projects - to make a record. In doing that - have to decide what you are going to make accessible and in what form. Fiche isn't accessible.

(8) Publishing is to disseminate information. It's a public duty. People should know about the work, in whatever format is possible. Baseline is to describe the findings.

(11) Important to publish so that other people in the field are aware of what is happening. Should publish what others, including specialists, would find useful. Should be some interpretation and synthesis. Many projects at present don't synthesise data from other sites/areas.

(15) Main reason to publish is to provide a record.

(22) Publish to disseminate archaeology and enable access to the material.

(26) Publication is a good way of reaching an archaeological audience in a format which forces excavators to think about the wider significance of their work.

(27) Publication, synthesis and interpretation are the reasons to publish.

(30) Publish to have the archaeological evidence available for scholars and the interpretation of the excavator available.

(31) Publication is important to make the information accessible.

(33) Main reason to publish - public accessibility.

(36) Dissemination of information is the reason to publish.

(40) Anyone who sticks a trowel in the ground has an obligation to publish the findings and to disseminate the information to other archaeologists.

Group 3

(1) Publishing - archaeology depends on a supply of well-documented information; professional ethics; dissemination; means of establishing professional credibility.

(4) Dissemination - to pose and answer academic questions and questions of interest to a wider audience; to make information available in a form that is easily accessible.

(5) Publishing - to communicate broad understandings to as wide an audience as possible.

(18) Publish to disseminate the results of fieldwork. Grey reports have limited access.

(19) Most archaeological work is funded from the public purse so it is a primary duty to make the results of that fieldwork available in a comprehensible form, to the public.

(24) With the new assembly in Wales - will need to be more publicly accountable. The rather exclusive way we disseminate information will be questioned.

(28) Responsibility to publish because of the amount of public money being used for excavation. Also need publication so that the subject can evolve.

(37) Publish to disseminate information and present conclusions.

Group 4

(21) It is important if a site has been dug that the record is preserved through archive or publication.

Should all fieldwork projects be published at the same level? Should there be more popular publications in addition to the fieldwork report?

Group 1

(12) Everything should be published in some form but a lot of sites are not worthy of any detailed publication. There should be an annual directory of sites to get people aware of what is going on - grid ref, date of excavation, planned date of report, contact number, location of the archive, and ideally, a summary of what was found. It should be recognised that some people are happy in the field but if they published to a basic level they would be happy for someone else to do the full publication. There is too much emphasis on getting sites published. The importance lies in the archive.

(13) Would want the whole report transparent so that lay people could use it.

(29) Public might not want the same amount of detail but if detailed analysis is being carried out, the data is needed - a lot of the smaller journals should be putting more information in.

(35) Excavation report should report of the excavation rather than generalising. There could be an accompanying book of essays. There is a lot of reinventing the wheel with the publication of eg sections on previous work.

Group 2

(2) Need other publications on a different level.

(3) All projects should be disseminated at the same basic level. Not all sites should be published as monographs but at least people should be aware of their existence.

(7) All projects should not be treated the same in terms of publication - have to assess the importance of what has been done. We mustn't bury our results so only the profession can understand. We may need two levels of publication. The latter would be non-referenced.

(8) Not all projects warrant the same level of publication. Some only warrant grey literature. Useful to have a number of publications coming from the same project for different audiences. A lot more could be done on a more popular level. Would like more publication, at some level, just to know that a project has taken place.

(10) There should be a minimum level of interpretation like Discovery and Excavation in Scotland or Archaeology Yorkshire. Everything should be reported at this level, even if only a paragraph. Sites have to be published in academic form and then as a popular report if public merit demands it. Popular report is not appropriate for everything.

(11) For small projects - one publication is probably enough. Interpretation and data - need to be together. Some very small projects - could be grouped together if too small to publish as individual projects. In her work, really only the bigger projects that get to publication.

(15) An interested, educated lay audience should be able to understand fieldwork publications.

(16) Not all projects should be published in the same way. For some developer funded projects, publication in the same way would be a waste of time and money. At the very least some indication that the excavation has taken place, what the conditions were, the background, etc, should be made available in the public domain, in an appropriate form. Additional interpretation, etc, would depend on the scale of the excavation. There should be different publications for different audiences.

(25) Some projects will have more of a public interest than others, but some small reports can be just as interesting and feed into any number of syntheses. A lot of publications are jazzed up for 'the public', the sort of mythical public who can't understand what the specialist archaeologist says. The reason we still need different publications is because of people's attitudes. There are still a few professional archaeologists who would feel uncomfortable reading a text that flowed, in which the facts and figures didn't jump out at them.

(26) We have to be selective in what is published.

(27) Would like to see multiple publications and multiple formats of publications. We underestimate what the public can understand and what they are interested in.

(30) Has to be some selection or nobody would read the reports. Have to be able to reinterpret if necessary. In Ireland there is a publication called the Excavations Bulletin - publishes excavation summaries. Allows people to know that work has been done then they can go to the grey literature.

We are short on middle ground - there are people with big ideas and no data and others with lots of details and no big ideas. Not enough broader synthesis. There should be more writing for the public but done by people who enjoy writing in that way.

(31) Major excavations should be formally published. Small excavations also if some important information has come up. Dissemination of information is usually served by the more popular publications around such as Archaeology Ireland.

(33) A lot of the specialist reports would be too detailed for the public unless desperately interested. Archaeology Ireland meets that requirement. Not necessary for each fieldwork project to have a publication acceptable to the public if it involves rewriting or writing in a non-academic way.

(36) No point in giving someone not well versed in archaeology a technical publication. Sometimes it is better to do a popular publication to go along with, eg, an exhibition of the site. Can't cater for everyone in one publication.

(40) Archaeology Ireland, British Archaeology and Current Archaeology are useful in dissemination of information to the public.

Group 3

(1) What we need is a list of recently completed projects with a summary of what was found, an indication of the evidence and the results or where the publication is. Wouldn't exclude the possibility of publishing in more detail but it could then take a more appropriate form. For some small scale projects that might be enough.

(4) Any substantial report may need several different formats of publication.

(5) Different publications needed - information either needs to be layered in a particular publication, either electronically, or in print, or a whole series of publications are needed. For very large sites this might include schools material. Discrimination in how sites are published should be on grounds of regional, national or local significance.

(18) May not be appropriate to publish all fieldwork.

(19) Could be done at several levels. At a basic level it would be what was found, why you think you can say what you can say, so that people can determine if it is relevant to what they are doing.

(19) In favour of a synthetic academic publication and a popular synthesis.

(24) The level of publication depends on the quality of the information. It should be a requirement that there is a record of it in a recognised place. At present publication is very dependent on the unit and on what money the unit can get from the developer. The synthetic narrative would be a well-integrated excavation report which is still a scholarly document. Other popular publications could be more specifically targeted.

(28) Whole audience can't be served by the same publication. In a lot of cases the publication is aimed at a different audience to the general public so there is room for both. Would like a better level of information given to the general public on major excavation projects, which isn't happening at the moment.

(37) There should be different levels of publication.

Group 4

(21) Publication should inform at a very wide and general level. Most specialist reports should be in archive. There should always be some sort of popular synthesis. Different audiences can be served by the same initial publication. The academic could still read that report and be guided to where there is more detailed reporting.

What is your opinion of grey literature?

Group 1

(6) Confused as to how to start finding out about grey literature.

(29) Grey literature - very little of this gets into the public domain, just a paragraph to say that the excavation took place. Would be good to have all that data on a computerised system.

Group 2

(2) Grey literature needs to be much more accessible. Dissatisfied with the growth of grey literature and the way it is so difficult to get hold of it or even to know that it exists. Electronic dissemination can be a real help in that.

(3) Not happy with grey literature - would have to go to a specific city to get the necessary information.

(7) Grey literature is a disaster for archaeology. It is suppressing information. This is a major issue that needs to be looked at.

(11) Too much grey literature which is never published. At the moment, because you never get to know about the small sites, they can't be synthesised into the publication of the large sites in the area. Would like to see a system where the grey literature is synthesised.

(15) Grey literature is very inaccessible unless you know it exists through colleagues and friends. Anything worth digging is worth publishing. Small projects not worth individual publication could be put together in the context of a larger publication. A lot of very useful information is coming out from very small projects.

(20) Grey literature - problematic as nobody knows it has been done. Would like to have a single place to go to to know what is going on. This would be particularly helpful if your interest is not confined geographically or chronologically.

(27) Grey literature is ok if they lead to formal publication within a year. Uses pre-print/interim publication - text submitted to publication elsewhere and withdrawn once accepted. Interims should be published or the subject will continue to progress very slowly.

(33) There is a huge variation in the standard of grey literature.

(34) Information gap - feels he doesn't know where to look for a lot of the data.

Group 3

(1) Problem of knowing what is there.

(18) There should be ways of synthesising grey literature. Something like Discovery and Excavation in Scotland but with more detail.

Group 4

(21) Grey literature - knowledge of these sites has to be available so that those who require the information can find it.

Is the level of data and interpretation right?

Group 1

(6) Report has to have primary data to be of use. If choosing data or interpretation, would choose the former.

(12) As long as the public has access to the archive there is no need to go into the minute detail of recording. Should use plans and elevations to greater effect and cut down on the context recording. There is too much following format - like churning to get a publication out.

(13) With developer funding there isn't the time to consider broader interpretation and synthesis of a particular type of site or period.

(14) Descriptive narrative is more important than interpretation. While interpretation is useful for non-professionals, professionals usually have their own methods of interpreting. Also useful to have the interpretation as it informs how the site was excavated. Data doesn't have to be published in a bound volume to be of use - it could be published on the internet. Old format of structure report, specialist reports and descriptive narrative was ideally suited for old-style research-oriented excavation. Doesn't necessarily fit developer funded archaeology. For these there could be more emphasis on simple description. We are bound by a tradition which has served its purpose well when archaeological investigations were done in a certain way.

(29) If the site warrants full publication - would argue for a fairly comprehensive description.

(35) Has to be a cut-off in terms of published information - eg analytical data for finds should be available in the archive. There could be a fuller archival report bringing together information not in the excavation publication.

Group 2

(2) Excavator has a duty to interpret their information. We have to have an understanding of why excavators have done what they have done. User should be able to assess the interpretations and the logic.

(3) People who recover the data should interpret it. 70s - presentation of the data with little interpretation. Universities and units were largely separate. 80s and 90s - more fieldworkers were products of universities, so there is more interpretation in the publications. Since competitive tendering - too busy for interpretation, just churning out the results. At the moment - too much emphasis on presenting data rather than interpreting it. But wouldn't want it to be turned around so that nobody can find out what is being interpreted. Archaeology is not a science - we are not testing data, simply presenting information.

(7) Important to realise that a site will be reinterpreted - no such thing as a 'final' report. Report should have the basic data in it. Scholarship is not as impressive as it should be - often articles don't come up with ideas.

(8) Analysis and interpretation are equally important. There should be more emphasis on the archive in some cases.

(10) Fieldwork project should always have a research aim, should always be testing a hypothesis. Archives should be fully available, but prefers data to be available in the publication - all the necessary descriptive data. But there are alternative ways, eg CD-ROM.

(11) If not all the necessary specialist information is in the publication it should be clearly stated how you can get hold of it and where the archives are, which is not done in some publications. For some classes of finds, such as pottery, where types are fairly well understood across the whole country, perhaps only the really unusual pieces should be described in detail. Sometimes the context information is too detailed. Would accept selection on the basis of the framework of interpretation of the author. Interpretation often seems to be squashed into the final few chapters. Specialist data should be distinct but interpretations and conclusions should be more integrated into the interpretation of the site as a whole. Changes need to come at the beginning of the post-excavation - project manager/monitor should ensure that everyone gets together to talk. Synthesis - nobody has time unless they work in a university.

(15) Interpretation and synthesis is just as important as the data - it explains why the author has chose to publish what he has.

(16) Feels that in Scotland the monographs and the Proceedings haven't got the level of detail right. Environmental material used to be put in fiche. Now there is no fiche but it is not put in at all. But there is still vast amounts of structural information, with no real attempt at producing a synthesis for the general reader. A great discrepancy within and between reports as to what level of data is considered to be important.

(20) Wouldn't like to lose access to the detailed information. Would be happy if a lot of the material was archived if the archives were more accessible. Doesn't think description separate from interpretation and analysis is possible. An interpretative approach is always more helpful for people who don't know the material. There should be more integration into the wider archaeological and historical literature taking place within the specific project publication.

(22) Prefers a proper detailed report. Should be 2/3 detail and 1/3 synthesis. Likes a fairly comprehensive report because the archives are not always easy to get hold of.

(25) Wouldn't be happy to see the synthesis divorced from most of the data. Would like to see a more explicit acknowledgement of the kind of interpretative framework - recognising, recording and presenting. Archives are the best place for a lot of the material.

(26) Data and interpretation - would give equal weight - archaeology is interpretative and trying to create a false objectivity is a sterile procedure.

(27) Often very difficult to tell observations from interpretations. Would like integration but would like the specialist reports maintained as separate.

(30) As long as there is a way of getting back to the information, it doesn't matter where the information is.

(33) Interpretation and synthesis are of equal importance to the data. Reports can be confusing if a lot of the interpretation gets mixed in with the data. Should be more integration of the specialist data into the discussion but should also stand in a block on its own. Specialists need to discuss more with excavator.

(34) Wants to feel confident that the interpreter understands the background and limitations of the evidence. More use should be made of detailed plans and profiles.

(34) Specialist volumes in great detail are expensive to print and buy as a consumer. If it makes the published part cheaper to buy, some of the information could be on CD-ROM. The data needs to be in the report somewhere. Sometimes the archive material is not easy to use. All sorts of things tend to be missing.

(36) Should be a balance between a purely descriptive overview (doesn't mean every section of a posthole has to be drawn) and the discussion and synthesis (the importance of the site but done in a strong academic context, not someone's personal overview). Some material could be in the archives.

(40) Full account should be published if possible and should include material from the excavation and the specialist reports. Report should be as objective as possible. Shouldn't have to resort to the archive unless going into the site in great detail. Director should want to meet with the specialists and discuss aspects of their findings.

Group 3

(1) Would like to see the mass of data which he suspects very few people read in detail reduced - perhaps reduce the amount of technical data with more space given over to discussion of the significance of the site. Would have wider appeal and greater impact. The technical data would be available through the WWW or CD-ROM. Many fieldwork projects are exactly the kind of complex data structures which lend themselves to being managed in this way. Even a brief description requires some level of interpretation. For large-scale analysis - difficulty is in knowing how far you can use developer money.

(4) Need to think about different publications as the balance between the two may differ. Large volumes with all the data present - serve little purpose except as an 'information mine' - alternative approach is to produce trendy assertions without any support in terms of argument. People should think carefully about how useful the information they are producing will be to the reader. Any publication that puts forward conclusions must provide adequate basis for these conclusions.

(5) Not good enough that much specialist material is only available by travelling to the archive. But feels that it doesn't have to be published in hard copy as the audience is so restrictive.

(18) For fieldwork projects would like to see something descriptive and brief, put in its context.

(24) Suspects students are increasingly working from works of synthesis and not going back to source information. We have to get much closer to narrative publication of excavation reports. We need to decide whether we need such a technical form of publication. Some local societies don't want the volumes overwhelmed with stuff the membership doesn't understand. Narrative report - will have proper integration of the environmental and artefactual material. Finds could be published more fully, perhaps in specialist journals. The narrative would contain a summarised version of the pottery report and then the bit about what the pottery says about the site integrated into the narrative. The narrative would cross-reference to the archive for technical detail, eg the matrices. The archive would then have to be prepared as the technical report and be available on call from wherever the archive is being held.

(28) Can see the attraction of synthesis backed by archive. Advantage of having data published is that readers can disagree with the interpretation. Those who have excavated should interpret. It is never possible to publish everything found in a large excavation - need to be selective with some things archived.

(37) Archives are fine for some of the data if it was easily accessible - sometimes the conclusions are so technical we have to take them on trust.

Group 4

(21) Reports should be more synthetic. Précis would make a report more meaningful in context. If there is something special, eg the pottery, it could be published separately. The archive could have the specialist reports, which could be stand-alone reports, perhaps with elements of discussion and synthesis. Specialists would still be producing in terms of their CVs.

Should it be possible to reinterpret a site from the data?

Group 1

(6) High level of selectivity from when you put spade in the ground.

(12) Report - can't be unbiased - from the moment of excavation, people are interpreting. Should be possible to reinterpret a site, but would have to involve the archive as well.

(13) It would be difficult to check an interpretation from the archive - plans, etc are drawn on the basis of an interpretation of the primary archive. Ideally people should use the archives, but it would be difficult to establish what had been filtered.

(14) The prime reason for using a report is to save going back to the original material - one expects an objective and reliable account of what was found. Should always be possible to assess and reinterpret a site or body of information.

(29) Ideally it should be possible to assess the interpretations and even reinterpret from the publication.

(35) To a certain extent you have to take it for granted that most of the interpretation by the excavator - at least the basic interpretation - is going to be correct.

Group 2

(2) Need to have all the information accessible to the profession, either by WWW or CD-ROM.

(3) If reinterpreting - would use assemblage rather than publication. Need the archives for full reinterpretation.

(8) It should be possible to reassess the author's interpretation.

(10) Should be able to reinterpret the site on the basis of the information in the report.

(11) Should be possible to assess the interpretations from the information in a report. Reinterpretation of the site would require going back to the archives.

(15) It should be possible to reinterpret from the report.

(20) Should be possible for users to assess the interpretations that the author is putting forward, from the material in the publication.

(22) Should be possible to reinterpret from the publication.

(27) Should contain enough information to go back and do reinterpretations. That is what is lacking - it is really difficult to reassess.

(33) It should be possible to assess the main general points from the report but probably not the more detailed aspects.

(36) Should be able to assess the arguments being presented. Complete reinterpretation would need archive work.

Group 3

(1) Should be possible to reinterpret at some level but at other levels it will be necessary to go back to the primary archive. No case where we could throw away the archive after publication.

(5) Unrealistic to think you can reinterpret a site from the publication. Important to recognise that interpretation will change and that archive may have to be checked.

(18) Should be able to undertake low-level reinterpretation of the site from the publication. For more detailed analysis - would have to go back to the archive. In this case the publication would be basically a catalogue of what is in the archive.

(19) The whole process, from the start of digging, is interpretation. Wouldn't like all the context information available in the publication, but would like them available in the archive. It should be possible to assess the interpretation of a particular author from the publication.

(24) As an ordinary archaeologist - have to take it on faith that the excavator has interpreted the site reasonably. There is no such thing as objectivity. The excavation report is taken from a particular angle. Would like to see as objective as possible a report by the excavator which could then be tested by looking at the archive report.

(28) In reinterpretation would have to accept that he would never get as close as the excavator.

Group 4

(21) Reinterpretation of a site would involve people going back to the archive.

Should there be more integration of specialist reports?

Group 1

(6) Likes distinction between data and interpretation. Expects data to have been selected for the final publication. Expects data to be relevant to the discussion. Reinterpretation from the publication is a bit unrealistic.

(12) Publication has to be more than description of the fieldwork structure by structure. Would like a more integrated approach. Would like to see integration take place in the discussion or conclusion but still likes the specialist reports separate as it is useful to have a reference section. Likes data separate from the discussion so that the reader can decide if he/she agrees with the interpretation.

(13) Would like to see more integration of what was found into the broader interpretation - often there is not enough time for this. There is a lot of prejudice in terms of what ends up in the final report and what is left out of the archive.

(14) Against specialist reports being kept separate. Specialists should be more involved, even in the field.

(29) Separation of the reports depends on the questions. It is more useful for most people if they are separate. But the author should drive the information back into the interpretation of main discussion at the end of the paper. Specialists should provide their own synopsis and data as well.

(35) The best structure for a report is stratigraphy, finds, conclusions - doesn't like to have to search through different parts of the report for information. It is awful to have appendices of finds - specialist reports are as much part of the excavation as the actual digging.

Group 2

(2) Specialist reports should be more closely integrated within a monograph. All people should have an input at an interpretative level.

(3) Happy with structure of reports - as a specialist user - good to have the data. Doesn't want to have to search through pages of interpretation.

(7) Should distinguish facts from the primary information but sometimes the storyline will emerge throughout. Specialist reports are often not used effectively enough and are not integrated into the conclusions. Only one individual can do the writing up - strongly against the involvement of specialists in the writing up.

(8) There should be a lot more integration between the structural aspect and the finds. Advantages of integration is that the whole story is told. Wouldn't mind the finds reports being integrated.

(10) Prefers it to be clear what is interpretation and what is description but likes idea of integration. Data in the publication should not be coloured by interpretation. It is easier to read integrated interpretation but more difficult to access as a specialist. Also most specialists want their name on their own contribution. Contradiction - so better to be integrated but resisted because of role in status within the profession.

(11) Writing up fieldwork - there should be more co-authors rather than one main author.

(15) Sometimes it would be more useful to have interpretation and synthesis first and then get back to the data because the descriptive material is difficult to assess without first understanding what the excavator thinks happened on the site. Likes to see specialist reports distinct. Easier for practical reasons. If the two are integrated the amount of description would be reduced because otherwise it would be very difficult to read. If everything is cross-referenced, separation shouldn't be a problem.

(16) The material is usually poorly integrated - specialists don't get together. Would like to see specialists involved from the design stage of a publication - doesn't see economic data as 'specialist' but as a core interest to a site. Need interpretation and data to be kept separate. You need to know where the data is and what was done with it, but that doesn't necessarily have to be published. What you would have is the information needed to sustain an argument, but not necessarily that needed to negate it. Would be happy with this situation if the information was accessible through the Net. Attempts to get specialists to produce standard reports - may be relevant at the level of archiving, but is not an appropriate way to present a research exercise to the more general public.

(20) It is difficult for students to use reports split into finds and features. Would rather the excavator did the interpretation - they have much better knowledge of the excavation.

(22) If detail and discussion are mixed - more difficult to come to your own conclusions. Prefers specialist reports to be separate.

(25) The specialist and the non-specialist should not be separated in the report.

(26) Against editing out of the specialist material - it is not fair on those who have produced the reports but would like to see more integration of reports. Would like to see people experiment with ways of presenting the information that weren't formulaic. There should be enough information to reinterpret the data.

(27) Lack of interweaving between main text and the specialist reports is a problem. Often it is not possible to find the evidence for one in the other.

(30) Differentiating between interpretation and data is as close as archaeologists can ever come to describing facts. If opinion and facts are mixed it is very difficult to check things. Not enough cross-referencing - often it is only the main points of a specialist report that are fed back into the discussion.

(31) Distinction makes excavation reports easier to follow. Wouldn't like to see more integration. But would like more integration into the discussion with more cross-referencing and integration at the discussion stage.

(36) There should be more integration but there is no need to break down the structure. The separate specialist reports will have their own interpretation.

(40) Would like to see more integration. Would like both a separate specialist report and information from that report integrated into the discussion. It is easier to reassess if the reports are kept separate.

Group 3

(4) Doesn't believe in a highly uniform treatment. Has to depend on the nature of the project and the importance of the results, and on the authors. More discursive passages are often wanting in terms of use of the specialist reports. But present structure makes it easier for specialists to use the data.

(5) More integration is needed - idea of teams meeting to discuss is good, but expensive.

(18) Likes distinction between description and interpretation - used to this format.

(19) Likes the interpretation and the facts somehow intermingled. Likes to see separate specialist reports, but expects the archaeologist to say why they have been presented.

(37) Would be good to have more integration of reports.

Group 4


Are you happy with the present situation? Do you support use of the Internet for publishing or dissemination of information?

Group 1

(6) No interest in the Internet. Would be concerned about how information would be controlled financially.

(13) Not happy with the current situation - good sites tend to be written up well but in terms of basic information coming in from smaller sites it takes a long time to filter through as it tends to be very dispersed. Would like to see the form of publications structured in a similar way and in terms of how evidence is presented. Internet publication is irrelevant unless even the smallest site could be put onto the system.

(14) The publication structure is not working - the vast majority of excavations and fieldwork is not being published. Even quite extensive investigations are not getting into the public domain. There are problems with the level at which the material is published and the lack of standardisation.

Every reasonably-sized unit should have the resources to produce monographs with ISBNs.

In the ideal world funds would be available for all sites to be published in monograph format, and small investigations could be published together. Unfortunately it is not like this - a shortcoming of the current planning advice. A major drawback is that the only requirement placed on the developers is that the archaeology is preserved by record.

(29) Problem with putting information on-line is that a lot of people have no access.

(35) Would like to see the growth of specialist excavation journals to cover small excavations - at present a lot go into a local journal and are either inaccessible in its intellectual content of many of the readers or is simplified so much that it is no longer a proper excavation report.

Group 2

(2) Seems to be a trend towards cutting down on what goes into an excavation report. The idea that you can go for a synthetic level of presentation and only those pieces of information relevant to a particular interpretation is a bad trend. Would like not to have to access the archive - report with CD-ROM then archive only if all else fails. If sites can be archived electronically, so much the better.

(3) Can see merits of internet accessibility and dissemination via digital media. But standards would need to be in place.

(7) Doesn't have a computer but is open to electronic publication. The book is a wonderful form of publication.

(10) Feels happy with the present situation, but doesn't know what he is missing. WWW - not necessarily a good idea - things can be very difficult to find. Accessible if you know where things are, but harder to find. No search engine that can handle all the web sites. Publication on paper - at least has an ISBN number.

(11) Internet is good, but limits access to people who have access to the internet. Wouldn't like to see it replace traditional publication but maybe it could be used for some of the grey literature. Advantage is that you can have a lot of raw data. Another advantage is that it could provide a means for linking basic information on publications aimed at different audiences.

(15) In an ideal world would like to see an interpretation and synthesis and a sort of basic level of descriptive narrative available in the text and the archive freely available, preferably on the Internet. If the archive isn't freely available and you have to travel then you have to publish at a much more extensive level.

(16) In theory Internet publishing is a great idea but not everyone is confident that what is there today will still be there in 10, 15 or 20 years.

(22) Attitude to paper publication could be changed if Internet publication was found to be useful.

(25) Internet would help - at present it is only if you live in Britain that you can access archives.

(26) Positive towards electronic media but doesn't think it can replace the printed text - happier reading paper text.

(30) Would hate to see a system where everything was stored electronically and then technology moved on and there was no money to do the data transfer.

(31) Internet - how useful it is will depend on what kind of information is put on.

(34) A lot of problems with large reports - they are bulky, expensive to buy, bookshops don't stock them. It is difficult to know that they exist. Archaeology Ireland is, from the point of view of the average kind of layman interested in archaeological data, a well-produced journal, as good as anything as people can buy it reasonably inexpensively. It also appeals to academics. In Britain it could be done on a regional basis.

(36) Doesn't use electronic publication - there are a lot of copyright problems.

(40) Would be worried that the Internet would take over from traditional paper publication. At the moment wouldn't imagine sitting down to read an in-depth report on the screen.

Group 3

(1) Standard mode of publication requires an enormous amount of factual description printed in hard copy. Journals - paid for by subscribers who may not want their money spent that way. Editors have a responsibility to their readership as well as to their authors. Instead of 60-70 pages of technical detail, a 15-20 page summary could be published with a summary and a statement of why the site is so exciting and the results are so important. The content would then be more appealing to the readers without deriving professionals of an opportunity to get a high profile publication. Need more variety in publication, eg regional reviews.

(24) Internet is a good way of disseminating information but the real worry is its sustainability. The transferability of technology is something we haven't addressed yet. Reading excavation reports on the Web will cost. Issue of longevity - who will transfer all the data?

(25) Internet - happy medium between archiving and publication.

(28) Microfiche went our of fashion. CD-ROM will also go out of fashion. The problem is to find some way of being able to update the data. Archives on the Net - causes problems of rights. There is also the problem that not everyone has access to the Net, especially freelancers not backed by an institution.

(37) Internet could be used as an immediate outlet. There should be a section at the front detailing methodology, retrieval of data, etc.

Group 4


Other comments

Group 1

(12) A lot of clients don't want people to know what has been happening on their sites. They have a right to say that. The ideal situation would be a government tax on all developers, so that funds for sites were properly allocated and major fieldwork was published. Unfortunately the only people who think about research are universities. Consultants don't see it as their role. Their role is to provide a paper archive of the work they have done.

(13) Publication is not a means to advancement in his experience as a contractor.

(14) Would like to see more quality control or peer review. Internet - perception at the moment is that it is lightweight, but this is philosophical as usership is much greater. Journal impact factors are calculated on the average number of citations - about 10 in the two years after publication could be expected. The average web site is visited hundreds of thousands of times a year. Simple ease of access ensures there's much greater usage. One of the advantages of multimedia is that both general and academic information can be stored in the same documents.

(35) Editors should be far more in control of what is in the pages of their publications - it is the responsibility of the editor to keep up the quality of the journal.

Group 2

(7) Much archaeological writing is very boring - won't have archaeology in 20 years if we go on like this. Often don't get a sense of a very strong storyline. Partly due to commercialism - when you have to be commercially effective there might not be time for the archaeology to come alive. When computerising information we need to consider the durability of the information and whether the technology available today will make sense in 250 years.

(8) Publications are important for career structure because of the way the system is structured.

(10) Doesn't feel there is a good enough system in place at present. People should not be paid the final instalment of their fees prior to publication. Funding bodies are not doing enough to ensure this.

(15) Most regional research is happening within the universities. Big synthetic research work is not being done - universities can't do it because of the RAE. Units can't do it because of rescue work and watching briefs. Neither HS or EH have funding. Increasingly a two-tier system where publishing rescue work doesn't count in gaining status.

(16) Publication is not helped by the onus on people to produce publications in order to further their careers - a lot of rubbish is produced in the name of academic research - academics often churn out one paper after another. Often papers are produced quickly to meet the next research assessment exercise rather than being carefully considered and refereed.

(20) People working in field archaeology need to be given the opportunity to explore other ways of writing and presenting their information.

(26) Problems with academic archaeology - authors of some archive reports would benefit from more up-to-date knowledge of the material. Academic archaeology is becoming increasingly divorced from the practice.

(27) Lack of refereeing is often a problem. Appalled by how much money is spent and how little comes out in print.

(33) Different attitudes to publishing from the academics and the field archaeologists - academics look on it more as a status thing.

(34) Central archives - user has to go there. Might inhibit people from using the data freely. Would prefer to have it in a transferable form such as CD-ROM. More could be done by archaeologists to make their data more accessible to other disciplines such as historians.

(40) RAE - a lot of people spend all their time working on publications because that is how their department is graded.

Group 3

(1) Enormous increase in small excavations - cumulatively of significant importance. If we were concerned more with research significance of the project rather than the size of the publication report it could give value to small-scale excavations.

(4) Major problem - referees don't do a very good job and are often not prepared to be critical. Current pressure on academics to publish frequently and rapidly has led to a decline in quality and relevance. Academics are unfortunately at present employed in a structure that places a very low value on editing and refereeing activities.

(5) Too much emphasis on traditional archaeological report being the plank in further career progression. Should have a more collaborative approach - multi-authoring rather than a principal author.

(37) On occasion pressure to produce publications might not have had a positive impact.

Group 4


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