From The Ground Up

The Publication of Archaeological Projects

a user needs survey

 


4 Results

In this section the results of the questionnaire are presented and discussed. The significance of patterns and trends is highlighted, although broader discussion is provided in Section 6. The figures (both numbers and percentages) on which the graphs in this section are based are tabulated in Appendices (4.1–4.6).

4.1 Questionnaire response rate

Out of 2668 questionnaires sent out, 878 were returned, a response rate of 32.9%. Of the returned questionnaires, 83 were unusable as a result of very partial or non-completion, and lack of critical demographic information, especially concerning region and constituency, which form the basis of much of the analysis. This left 795 questionnaires available for analysis: a response rate of 29.8%. The target response rate was 30% (see Section 3.3), a figure which is regarded as average for mail questionnaire surveys. The tracking of the responses and use of a reminder card significantly increased the size of the sample.

In general there was a good response across different questions. However, many respondents did not complete every question, and in some cases they completed questions incorrectly. Totals in the numerical tables in the appendices therefore fluctuate. Nevertheless, percentages have been calculated on the basis of the total sample, or where appropriate the total sample for particular nations/regions and constituencies. The non-response data for each question (or for categories within questions) are of inherent importance, as potential indicators both of the adequacy of question design and respondents' familiarity with the subject matter of particular questions. The highest levels of non-response related to issues with which some respondents are likely to be unfamiliar, such as WWW publications and the Internet.

The demography of the sample is discussed in Section 4.2. Here it is only necessary to note that the response rates for different areas (see Section 3.2) varied from 23% for Scotland to 53% for Southern England (see Appendix 4.1). This could be due to a variety of factors, but given that a response rate of c 50% or more is regarded as an indicator of a highly motivated survey population, it can be suggested that respondents in England and Northern Ireland feel greater levels of concern about the problems of disseminating the results of fieldwork projects than do colleagues in Scotland. Such an interpretation is in part supported by data provided in response to a number of questions (see Section 4.3.1 below).

As mail questionnaires generally have a somewhat low response rate, the actual response population is a potential source of bias. For this reason it is common to evaluate the response sample by comparing the data from sub-sets of the sample distinguished by the speed at which they replied (see Figure 4.1). In this case, sub-sets of the response sample were defined by three response periods - the immediate responses (period A: days 1-9); the responses as the deadline approached (period B: days 18-22); and the responses received after issuing a reminder (period C: days 32-38). The responses of these three sub-sets to four diverse questions were then analysed (see Figures 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5).

The analysis does reveal some variation between the three sub-sets. As might be expected, the graphs show that those who filled in and returned the questionnaire most quickly (sub-set A) tended to be slightly more dissatisfied with the existing situation than those who took longer. For instance, in reply to questions 4.1a, 4.4 and 4.5a (Figures 4.3, 4.4, 4.5), a greater proportion of the immediate response group (A) answered `yes' than in groups B and C. Furthermore, those who took longer to reply (sub-sets B and C) show a greater tendency to tick the `don't know/no opinion' box than those who responded immediately. However, these variations are relatively small, and, most importantly, they do not alter the overall patterns of response. So, in the case question 3.4 (see Figure 4.2), which asked respondents whether fieldwork publications provide them with all the information they need, a far greater proportion of sub-sets A, B & C answered positively (ranging from 59% - 65%) than negatively (ranging from 25% - 36%). Overall, analysis suggests that the response rate over time is not a significant source of bias. On this basis it can also be argued that a higher level of response would not have made any significant difference to the overall results.

4.2 Demography of the response group

Factors such as location, age, gender and archaeological constituency may well have an impact on results, and for that reason it is important to consider the respondents' demographic makeup. Indeed, one of the survey's objectives was to consider national/regional and constituency variation in needs and attitudes. The following discussion provides a basis for assessing the extent to which various groupings are represented by the survey. Where possible, the demographic makeup of those who took part is compared to the actual demography of the discipline, insofar as it was revealed by Profiling the Profession (Aitchison 1999).

The breakdown of responses by region, age, gender and constituency is summarised in Figures 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9 (see also Appendix 4.1). The national/regional summary (Figure 4.6) shows a good response from all areas, although the numbers vary from 25 for Northern Ireland to 280 for southern England. In sampling each region an attempt was made to achieve an adequate sample size for purposes of analysis (ideally 60 or more individuals per nation/region). Even so, the actual variation in the distribution of archaeologists still had an impact. Northern Ireland's 25 responses, for example, form a slender platform for analysis, yet are a direct reflection of the small number of archaeologists who work there. Northern Ireland, indeed, produced one of the highest response rates of the entire survey (see Appendix 4.1).

Figure 4.7 summarises the age distribution of respondents. 73% were in the 25-54 year age group. The age ranges for the survey differ slightly from figures for the discipline as a whole, with a larger number at the lower and higher ends of the scale, probably reflecting the inclusion of students and people working in archaeology in a voluntary capacity. The response by gender (Figure 4.8), which shows a 36% female response and a 58% male response (with 6% non-response), compares well with the ratio for professional archaeologists (as revealed by Profiling the Profession: Aitchison 1999, 15-18).

The primary, secondary and tertiary constituencies of respondents are shown in Figure 4.9 (cf Appendix 4.1). Consultants, contractors, editors, independent archaeologists, specialists and university staff are all particularly well represented, with 100 or more respondents falling into each of these constituencies on one basis or another. Constituencies based on local or national society membership rather than employment categories are also well represented when respondents' second and third constituencies are taken into account. Constituencies which are poorly represented are conservators, teachers, illustrators, representatives of cognate academic disciplines and metal detectorists. The low numbers can be attributed in part to difficulties in building a large sample frame for these constituencies, and in part to the fact that such groups are likely to be less motivated in respect to the subject matter of the questionnaire.

For analysis of inter-constituency variation in need, behaviour and attitude, responses to questions have been broken down on the basis of primary constituency alone. When this is done the actual population of each constituency becomes much reduced, and for the purposes just listed only those constituencies with 30 individuals or more can be regarded as analytically valid. These constituencies include: consultants (75); archaeologists working for national bodies/agencies (69); contractors (fieldworkers) (71); independents (active amateur) (89); local government archaeologists (45); local society members (37); museum archaeologists (72); postgraduate (38) and undergraduate (56) students; and university staff (67). Graphs providing information analysed by constituency will only incorporate these groups, but the full range of figures for constituencies can be found in the Appendices.

Figure 4.10 shows that 57% of those who responded were employed as archaeologists on a full- (47%) or part-time (10%) basis at the time when they completed the questionnaire. A further 14% were self-employed in archaeology, while 20% worked in a voluntary capacity. Only 1% described themselves as unemployed archaeologists, and 17% were engaged in full- or part-time archaeology-related study (see also Appendix 4.1; tables for question 1.5). The survey population therefore provides good coverage of both those active within the discipline. At the same time, independent archaeologists represent 11% of the sample (15% if secondary and tertiary constituency alignments are included: see Figure 4.9) and retired archaeologists make up a further 6% (Figure 4.10). The survey can thus claim to reflect the broad makeup of the discipline, as distinct from the narrower profession. Both professional and disciplinary organisations are well-covered in the survey sample, with 36% of respondents being members of the Council for British Archaeology/Council for Scottish Archaeology, 19% belonging to the Institute of Field Archaeologists, 7% to the Irish Association of Professional Archaeologists and 14% to the Council for Independent Archaeology (see Appendix 4.1; tables for question 1.6).

The questionnaire asked respondents about their research and publication background. Such information is significant because fieldwork publications are held to play an important role in relation to archaeology's research culture. It is therefore important that the survey should incorporate the views of those who are actively engaged in research and publication. It is also necessary to look at the types of archaeological publication to which that respondents have contributed, as this may influence their needs and attitudes. Of the total sample, 73% described themselves as engaged in active research, and over half stated that they had directly contributed to fieldwork publications (68%) and/or syntheses focusing on particular subjects, nations/regions or periods (54%). A further 48% had contributed to a popular archaeological publication (see Figure 4.11; Appendix 4.1, tables for question 1.8). This shows a good balance between those involved in producing fieldwork publications and those who will be using them, while the sample also embraces those who are involved in both.

4.3 Use of archaeological publications: in general

The questionnaire probed the broad patterns of how archaeologists locate, acquire and use publications. Such information is interesting because publication practice within the discipline is based on assumptions about the kinds of sources which archaeologists prefer to use, and how they obtain publications (in particular whether sales figures reflect (or bear any relation to) use of fieldwork publications). Furthermore, with the general increase in the range and scale of information available there is concern as to whether archaeologists are able to obtain all the information relevant to their field(s) of study (cf Section 2).

4.3.1 Information sources

Respondents were asked (Q2.1) how useful they found a number of information sources in maintaining an overview of recent work. Figure 4.12 (cf Appendix 4.2) summarises the results. As might be expected journals and syntheses were the leading sources, with 71% and 60% of respondents, respectively, finding them very useful. Over half (51%) found colleagues and friends to be very useful in keeping up to date. Maps were also rated highly, with 44% finding them very useful. Abstracts, publishers' catalogues, and internet-based sources were less popular, with fewer than 20% of respondents finding them very useful and significant numbers stating categorically that they are not useful (see Figure 4.12).

Taking into account both the `very useful' and `sometimes useful' categories it is clear that traditional information sources are still perceived to be of primary importance, with fieldwork project summary publications (such as Discovery and Excavation in Scotland), NMRs/SMRs, publishers' catalogues, syntheses (regional, period, and subject), journals, maps, conferences, and networking all above 60%. It is also notable that the most traditional sources, such as syntheses, journals and colleagues/friends are rated as being more useful than summary publications such as Archaeology in Wales and Discovery and Excavation in Scotland (although analysis by nation/region sheds further light on this pattern: see Figure 4.13).

Newer Internet-based sources suffer from inaccessibility and/or lack of awareness - as well as, no doubt, a reluctance to change habitual practices. This seems clear from the high proportion of respondents who either found such resources difficult to access, had no opinion on their usefulness or failed to answer the question at all (64% in the case of email bulletin boards and 52% in relation to the World Wide Web).

Regional analysis of those who regard syntheses, journals, summary publications and SMRs/NMRs as `very useful' reveals considerable variation, particularly in relation to the latter two sources. In respect to fieldwork summary publications, a relatively high proportion of respondents regard them as `very useful' in the countries where such publications are regularly produced: Scotland (64%), Republic of Ireland (48%) and Wales (43%). In contrast, many fewer regard them as `very useful' in England (Northern 21%; Central 28%; South 21%) and Northern Ireland (24%). A similar pattern is evident in relation to SMRs/NMRs, with a far higher proportion of respondents based in Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland regarding them as `very useful', than in England and Northern Ireland (see Figure 4.13).

In following up the question of how archaeologists maintain an overview of recent work, respondents were asked whether they felt that relevant information was being produced of which they were unaware. A high proportion (71%) considered that this was the case, with 19% feeling that this was `often' the case (Appendix 4.2, tables for Q2.2).

Analysis by nation/region (Figure 4.14) indicates that respondents in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are least dissatisfied, with 52% and 32%, respectively, saying that they had no reason to think that material was being produced of which they were unaware. However, in the case of Northern Ireland, in particular, this view was undoubtedly related to the small size of the archaeological community in the Province, and hence to the smaller scale upon which work is undertaken and the mutual acquaintance of those who do it. The proportion of individuals who felt that there was often information being produced of which they were unaware was lowest in Northern Ireland (4%), Republic of Ireland (10%) and Scotland (12%). In England and Wales, by contrast, over 20% of respondents suspected that information was often being produced that had not come to their attention.

These results could reflect the smaller scale upon which research is carried out in Scotland and Ireland, and the provision of near-comprehensive annual gazetteers/summary publications. Most certainly, the latter were regarded as particularly useful by respondents in those countries (see Figure 4.13). However, this leaves the concern of respondents in Wales unexplained, as CBA Wales's Archaeology in Wales is a similarly authoritative annual listing.

Analysis by constituency (see Appendix 4.2, tables for Q2.2), shows that contractors/fieldworkers, local government archaeologists (curators) and those working in cognate disciplines are those most likely to suspect that information is being missed, as only 13%, 11% and 12%, respectively, felt that there was nothing relevant being produced of which they were unaware. In contrast, 20% or more of independents, museum archaeologists, university staff and postgraduates felt that they were aware of all the information being produced that was of relevance to them. (In the case of postgraduates this rose to a stunning 42%!). In the case of contractors and local government staff the greater anxiety about knowledge acquisition could reflect greater awareness of the sheer bulk of information being produced as grey literature. However, it is also likely to reflect the multi-period nature of their work, the limited time that individuals employed in these constituencies can devote to reading/broader research, and perhaps a sense of alienation in respect to broader synthetic knowledge.

4.3.2 Means of obtaining archaeological publications

The means by which respondents obtain the publications they use are summarised in Figure 4.15 (see also Appendix 4.2, tables for Q2.3). Society, university and institutional libraries are the chief sources, with 42% citing them as the primary means, 13% as the second, and 10% their third. Subscription to journals was the next most important means, followed by purchase of publications at publication price (with purchase once remaindered also being important). The low ranking of the World Wide Web is likely to reflect the lack of access that has been discussed above, and the relatively small number of archaeological projects which thus far have been published on the Internet.

4.3.3 Monitoring and use of archaeological publications

Respondents' monitoring of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and overseas journals was assessed on the basis of nation/region. The results (Figures 4.16, 4.17, 4.18, 4.19, 4.20) clearly show that respondents are most likely to monitor journals specifically to maintain an awareness of fieldwork projects being carried out in their own geographical area. Apart from such journals, far more respondents would monitor journals addressing English fieldwork (at least occasionally) than journals addressing other areas. For instance, whilst 95% of respondents based in Scotland monitored journals to maintain an awareness of fieldwork carried out in Scotland, fewer than 50% of respondents based in all the other nations/regions monitored journals at least annually for this purpose, with the exception of Northern Ireland (60%). Similar patterns can be observed for England and Wales, with even smaller percentages of respondents using journals on an annual basis to maintain an awareness of the fieldwork carried out in these nations/regions. In contrast, more than 60% of respondents based outside of England (with the exception of the Republic of Ireland) would monitor English journals at least annually. In part this may be a function of access to the journals in question. However, it may also reflect a tendency for some developments in England to dominate trends elsewhere, at least until recently.

Greater inter-national/regional similarity is visible in relation to journals concerning other parts of the world.

Respondents were asked about the use they had made of various types of publication during the six months which preceded the survey (Figure 4.21, and Appendix 4.2 for breakdown by primary constituencies). Publications were categorised thus: fieldwork monographs; fieldwork publications in journals; fieldwork publications in `grey literature'; syntheses on specific subjects, regions or periods; publications on method and/or theory; publications on heritage and/or management; policy/legislation documents; museum collection catalogues and popular archaeological publications. In reply to the precautionary question as to whether the six-month period was representative of their normal reading pattern, 79% replied that it was.

Figure 4.21 gives an overview of the reading habits of the total sample. It reveals a clear pattern across different types of publication, with most people using each type less than once a month. However, within this general pattern there is some variation in the frequency of use of different types of publication. Fieldwork publications in monographs and journals, and period, national/regional and/or subject syntheses, are used more frequently (once a week or once every 1-2 weeks) than other types of publication. 40% consult syntheses frequently, 33% make frequent use of fieldwork monographs, and 36% make frequent use of fieldwork publications in journals.

While fieldwork publications in monographs and journals are frequently consulted by about one third of the sample, only 22% regularly consulted `grey literature' fieldwork publications, and 17% never consulted them (Appendix 4.2). Only a small percentage of the sample make frequent (= weekly or fortnightly) use of publications on theory and method (15%), heritage management (11%), policy and law (11%), and museum catalogues (10%). A high proportion said that they never consult works on heritage (29%) and policy (29%), or museum catalogues (38%) at all.

These figures are perhaps not surprising. As categories of literature, works on heritage management and policy/legislation are likely to have a correspondingly specialised audience. The fact that a marginally higher proportion frequently consult syntheses rather than primary fieldwork publications may reflect the convenience (in location, intellectual accessibility, or both) of such works. However, it remains the case that fieldwork publications are still one of the most frequently consulted types of archaeological literature. The only exception lies with `grey literature', where the markedly lower usage may reflect one or a number of factors, such as difficulty in procurement, unawareness that some items exist, and the attribution of greater significance to material that is formally published.

A constituency breakdown of usage frequencies reveals further distinct patterns. Figure 4.22 shows the percentages of selected constituencies which make frequent use of certain types of literature. One of the most striking patterns concerns variation in the use of synthetic, in comparison with fieldwork, publications. It emerges that a greater proportion of university staff and students, museum archaeologists and archaeologists working for national bodies make more frequent use of synthetic, as opposed to primary fieldwork, publications. In contrast, contractors, consultants, specialists and local government archaeologists (curators) make more frequent use of fieldwork publications than of syntheses, although their use of the latter is still relatively high with over 25% using them frequently. This pattern becomes sharper in the case of grey literature with a relatively high proportion of contractors, local government archaeologists, consultants and archaeologists working for national bodies using it frequently, as opposed to a very low proportion of university staff and students, specialists and museum archaeologists.

The implications appear to be that those who are primarily involved in the production of fieldwork publications are also more likely to be using them. (University staff, whilst undertaking research excavations, spend much time on other work, and reading patterns will also to an extent be influenced by patterns of teaching.) As for grey literature, the figures suggest that usage is largely restricted to the those who produce it. The much-remarked disjunction between theory and practice is confirmed, and the survey illuminates a stronger interest in synthetic, theoretical and methodological publications on the part of university constituencies than from the commercial sector. While unsurprising, this was previously a supposition.

4.4 Use of fieldwork publications

4.4.1 Use of published and grey literature

Figure 4.23 graphs the number of published and grey literature fieldwork publications used by respondents during the 12 months prior to the survey. Overall, this shows that most respondents (75%) used between 1-50 published fieldwork reports in the course of the year, with 18% saying that they used over 51. Only 3% said that they did not use any at all. The results suggest that the use made of `grey literature' fieldwork publications is much less. Here the pattern is also slightly different, with 28% saying that they only used 1-5 such publications and 12% who did not use any at all. The fact that 12% of the sample did not answer this question suggests a high level of unfamiliarity with the genre.

Breakdown of these figures by constituency indicates much greater variation (see Figures 4.24 and 4.25), and in general confirms the patterns seen in Figure 4.22 with regard to grey literature and fieldwork publications. Figure 4.24, showing use of published fieldwork reports by selected constituencies, reveals that a higher proportion of contractors, specialists, archaeologists working for national bodies, and postgraduate students use more than 11 fieldwork publications per year than the other constituencies listed. In contrast, a far greater proportion of independent archaeologists, university staff and museum archaeologists use only 1-10 published fieldwork reports. Variation is even more striking in relation to grey literature, where use of more than 11 reports a year is made only by a significant proportion of contractors, consultants, archaeologists working for national bodies, and local government archaeologists (Figure 4.25). The graph shows that while grey literature is used to a certain extent across all the major constituencies, consultants, contractors and those working for local government are its principal audience, with contractors and local government archaeologists looking at more of it than any.

These results reinforce the pattern of use revealed by Figure 4.22, and convincingly demonstrate that grey literature reports have a limited audience beyond the contractorial and curatorial domains in which they are produced. This may reflect the factors identified in Section 4.3.3.

Other variations between the results graphed in Figures 4.22, 4.24 and 4.25 are visible. In contrast to the results of question 2.5a which asked about the frequency of use of various types of publication, the data acquired in response to question 3.1 provide information about the number of fieldwork publications that respondents had used. The results in Figure 4.22 suggest that university staff, postgraduate students and museum archaeologists consult published fieldwork reports as frequently as, for instance, contractors and those in local government, and yet the figures summarised in Figures 4.24 and 4.25 indicate that the former group tends not to use as many such publications as the latter. This suggests that university staff, postgraduates and museum archaeologists are making more regular (and perhaps more intensive) use of a smaller number of fieldwork reports, than other constituencies. It could be argued that this is to be expected of constituencies which are traditionally involved in synthesising the results of archaeological fieldwork in relation to research questions. However, if this is the case then it also appears that constituencies in the academic sphere are less acquainted with the results of a broad range of projects than those working in constituencies where a greater number of publications are consulted frequently.

4.4.2 Use of the components of fieldwork reports

Use of the different components of a fieldwork publication is summarised in Figure 4.26. Introductions and conclusions/discussions were found to be the most frequently-used sections, with over 83% and 85%, respectively, always or usually consulting them. Next in frequency of consultation came maps/plans/sections and photographs (69% and 67%, respectively). Artefact/ecofact catalogues and artistic reconstructions were the least used components, with only 35% and 45% of respondents always or usually using them. The entire publication was only always or usually read by 19% of respondents.

A breakdown of use of these components by constituency (see Figures 4.27, 4.28, 4.29, 4.30 and Appendix 4.3) reveals considerable variation. While introductions, conclusions and discussions are regularly used by all constituencies, but there is some variation in the proportion of constituencies which always use them. Figures 4.27 and 4.30 show, for instance, that in comparison with the average across constituencies (60%), a significantly lower proportion of independent archaeologists (46%, 47%), museum archaeologists (54%, 51%) and specialists (35%, 45%) `always' use the introduction and conclusion, respectively.

There is less inter-constituency variation in the use of the account of the structures, contexts and upstanding features which are often regarded as the core of an excavation report. In Figure 4.28, most of the constituencies fall within 10% of the average (54%) in the proportion of individuals who `always' or `usually' use this component. However, in terms of those who always use the structures report, museum archaeologists (6%) and artefact/ecofact specialists (3%) are again significantly below average (16%).

Other elements of the reports were used more frequently by those with a specialist interest. For instance there is considerable variation between constituencies in the use of specialist artefactual and environmental reports and catalogues. Here, as might be expected, museum archaeologists, conservators, postgraduates and particularly artefact/environmental specialists themselves, are the most frequent users. In the case of specialists 77% `always' use artefact/ecofact reports and 61% `always' use the catalogues. As to illustrations, site plans and photographs were used widely, while artefact/ecofact illustrations tended to be used more by those with a specialist interest.

In addition to looking at the way in which members of the discipline use fieldwork publications, the questionnaire also asked respondents why they used them. Overall, Figure 4.31 shows that fieldwork reports are most frequently used for obtaining a general overview of the site, for finding specific parallels with other sites or materials, and for obtaining information about a specific category of data (in each case over 50% of respondents said that they either `always' or `usually' used reports for this purpose). In terms of providing a source of data for broader subject/national/regional/period syntheses, an area traditionally regarded as one of the primary roles of fieldwork publications, 40% of respondents stated that they `always or `usually' use them for this purpose. The frequency with which fieldwork publications are used for other purposes then falls off sharply, with less than 20% of respondents `always' or `usually' using them for assessment in advance of commercial development, partial or wholesale reinterpretation of the site/material, as sources about methods, or for teaching.

Analysis by constituency reveals a number of largely predictable patterns (see Appendix 4.3). Note that figures mentioned here in the text are based on an amalgamation of the `always' and `usually' categories). In use for purposes of overview, most constituencies fall within 15% of the average percentage (68%) who `always' or `usually' use them for this purpose. The only exceptions are archaeologists working for national bodies (84%) who make exceptionally high use of reports for this purpose, and artefact and ecofact specialists (42%) who make relatively little use of them. In usage for obtaining parallels there is not a great deal of variation between constituencies, although when comparing those who `always' or `usually' use them for this purpose, consultants (80%), contractors (70%), museum archaeologists (76%) and specialists (77%) are noticeably above average (62%). Perhaps surprisingly, there is also little variation between constituencies among those who `always' or `usually' use fieldwork publications for purposes of subject, regional, or period synthesis - although artefact and ecofact specialists are 11% below average (40%).

There is considerable variation in the use made of reports to obtain information about specific categories of data. Museum archaeologists, postgraduates, artefact/ecofact specialists, and university staff make the most such use, with over 70% (over 90% in the case of specialists). `always' or `usually' using them for the purpose. Finally, as would be natural, it is predominantly consultants, contractors, local government archaeologists, and archaeologists working for national bodies who use fieldwork publications for assessment in advance of development, while university staff and teachers use them principally for teaching.

The survey sought to gain a general indication of levels of satisfaction with fieldwork reports by asking respondents whether they obtained all the information they needed from them (Figure 4.32). Overall, 67% said that they did, while 33% stated that they did not. Analysis by constituency reveals considerable variation. Specialists and university staff were least likely to obtain the information they required. Archaeological scientists also indicated a high degree of dissatisfaction (55% stating that that fieldwork publications do not provide them with all the information that they need), although the sample size (29) is rather small. These results probably reflect the fact that most reports on specialist material are not published in enough detail to satisfy specialists and scientists, while for university staff the problem may lie in more general dissatisfaction with the whole process of publishing fieldwork reports and the form that they take.

Finally in respect to usage, the questionnaire addressed the traditional view that fieldwork publications should include a comprehensive description of the evidence and keep a distinction between description and interpretation, to enable readers to engage in critical assessment and re-interpretation.

Thus, respondents were asked (Q3.5a) how often they engaged in critical assessment. Figure 4.33 shows that 6.2% of all respondents always undertake it, that 23.7% usually do so, and that 41.2% sometimes do so. Breakdown by constituency indicates that critical assessment is most likely to be undertaken by consultants, national body employees, teachers, local government employees, post graduates, specialists, scientists and university staff. (Over 30% of these groups said that they `always' or `usually' undertook it.)

4.5 Use of archives

Figure 4.34 summarises data on the number of times in the preceding year that respondents had followed up the use of a fieldwork publication by consulting its project archive. The results show that within that time 52% had not consulted paper/digital/film/microfiche records (`paper archives') and that 56% had made no use of the collected physical remains (artefacts/ecofacts). Only 10% had used either paper records or the collected remains on more than six occasions in the previous twelve months. These rather low figures confirm a perception that project archives are not widely used. However, the survey did not uphold the assumption that archives are underused because they do not provide information that is needed, or that they are difficult to use.

Analysis by constituency of those who had consulted archives shows that a higher proportion of contractors (fieldworkers) (55%), local government archaeologists (67%), postgraduates (50%) and artefact/ecofact specialists (55%) made greatest use of them, all these categories falling well above the average of 44% (Figure 4.35). Museum and local government archaeologists made most use of collected remains. Undergraduate students and local society archaeologists made the least use of project archives.

Those who had consulted archives were asked about the categories of material they had used. The responses show that survey reports (used by 63% of those who had used archives), archive reports (60%), photographs and drawings (83%), artefact/ecofact summary reports (62%), and the artefacts themselves (74%) were used by more people than other components of the archive (see also tables for Q3.6b in Appendix 4.3). In sharp contrast, site matrices were only used by 26%, notebooks/diaries by 39%, conservation records by 18%, and ecofacts by 18%.

Archive users were asked to rate the categories of material in terms of ease of use (Appendix 4.3 for Q3.6c). Of those who had used the various records, only 9% had difficulty with paper records; 12% had difficulty with computer records; 21% had difficulty with microfiche records; and 11% had difficulty using the artefacts/ecofacts. It would appear from these figures that archive users have less difficulty than rumour suggests. Furthermore, 81% of those who used archives were able to obtain all the information they needed, with only 24% of the entire survey sample stating that they had ever been obstructed in the use of all or part of a project archive which they wished to consult (Central England 30%; Northern England 24%; Northern Ireland 16%; Republic of Ireland 22%; Scotland 23%; Southern England 21%; Wales 33%). The main reasons for obstruction were listed as commercial confidentiality; ignorance as to the archive's whereabouts, and unwillingness on the part of the archive holder.

4.6 Fieldwork publications: attitudes, opinions and expectations

The questionnaire next sought information about what archaeologists expect from fieldwork publications and the values which they place on them. The aim was elicit general views on fieldwork publications rather than information about respondents' specific uses and needs. Nevertheless, that each respondent's background is likely to colour broader thinking is borne out by the analysis of replies by constituency.

4.6.1 Reporting on recent fieldwork

UK government planning guidance which places the onus for funding rescue projects on developers has given rise to concern about the adequacy of systems for the notification of such work and the dissemination of its results. The survey tested opinion about this, inviting views on the need for a better system for the reporting of recent or continuing fieldwork, whether in a single compendium or annual regional/national publications (see Figure 4.36). 62% of all respondents felt that there was a need for a better system for reporting on fieldwork projects, many commenting that it was difficult to know what literature existed and how to gain access to it. Analysis by nation/region and constituency revealed little variation (see Figure 4.37), with over 50% in all nations/regions and almost all constituencies expressing a desire for change.

It should be emphasised that this question addressed the situation in Britain and Ireland as a whole; hence, the results should not be interpreted as expressions of dissatisfaction with respondents' own countries. As already noted, perceptions of summary publications like Discovery and Excavation in Scotland show marked variation between countries (see analysis of Q2.1).

When asked what they would like to see as part of a revised system of notification about recent/continuing work, 57% favoured brief summary reports, 48% asked for a simple list (48%), and 34% wished to see thematic overviews (see Figure 4.38). It should be noted that these options are not exclusive, as respondents were allowed to select more than one. National/regional analysis discloses little variation in these figures, and whilst greater differences can be observed between constituencies, they do not reverse the order of preference save in the case of artefact/ecofact specialists and undergraduates.

4.6.2 Purpose of publishing fieldwork projects

A question lying at the heart of debate about fieldwork publications centres on their purpose. The survey therefore invited views on this issue (see Q4.2 of the questionnaire in Appendix 3.1 for the wording of this question; Figure 4.39 summarises the results). It should be noted that the list of purposes provided was not intended to be exclusive and respondents were allowed to select more than one. Indeed, most respondents (75%) did so, with only 16% selecting a single option and a further 9% not answering the question. Of those who answered, 65% indicated that a combination of between 2 and 4 of the options listed should be regarded as the reasons for publishing fieldwork projects.

An overall preference was expressed for three purposes: 68% (of the total sample) felt that a fieldwork publication should provide a brief report of the project; 58% felt that it should provide a concise but full description of the primary data with in-depth analysis and interpretation; and 54% felt that it should provide information about the site for the interested lay-reader. This combination of preferences prevailed in all the constituencies analysed in Figure 4.39, although in some cases the importance attached to each is inverted. For instance, over 70% of university staff, artefact/ecofact specialists, and postgraduates felt that provision of a full description of the primary data with in-depth analysis and interpretation should be one of the prime purposes of fieldwork publication, whereas only 50-60% of these constituencies considered that the purpose should be to provide a brief report of the project.

Far lower percentages felt that that the purposes should be to give a full description with minimal analysis and interpretation (33%), in-depth analysis and interpretation with selective description of the evidence (29%), or the production of a synthetic narrative history (32%). There is, however, some variation between constituencies. Contractors, consultants and archaeologists working for national bodies placed greater emphasis on these latter purposes than did others.

In many ways these results reflect the existing circumstances of fieldwork publication, in that during the 1980s and 1990s the publication of fieldwork projects tended to take the form of an interim and/or summary report, a full report of the evidence with analysis and interpretation, and publication for a popular audience. Thus, despite expressing dissatisfaction with current circumstances elsewhere in the questionnaire, the majority of respondents appear to be endorsing the status quo. However, given the powerful influence of the status quo upon the formation of opinion, it is arguably also significant that c 30% of respondents have selected models which represent a significant departure from existing established view: that is, the production of a selective narrative histories, and reports with in-depth analysis and interpretation but only selective reference to the primary data.

4.6.3 Content of fieldwork publications

Respondents were next asked to comment on the content of fieldwork publications. Would they like to see more, just the same amount or less emphasis on particular elements and characteristics, as listed in Figure 4.40? (The exact wording is given in question 4.3 of the questionnaire in Appendix 3.1). Figure 4.40 reflects a clear desire for an increase in cross referencing and integration of specialist reports with the main structures account; information on the location of the archive and attention to narrative style and readability.

Over 40% of respondents would also like to see increased integration between description and interpretation, in interpretation of the evidence, and broader synthesis, but there is greater ambivalence on these accounts with over 30% of respondents also arguing that they should stay the same. Analysis by constituency is of interest. The overall preference for greater integration between interpretation and description, and greater emphasis on interpretation in general, is reversed in the case of local society members and independent archaeologists where the greatest proportion would like to see the same or less. The constituencies which show a very clear preference for greater emphasis on interpretation are undergraduates and university staff. The latter also show a clear preference for greater integration between description and interpretation, as do contractors, local government archaeologists and those working for national bodies. All other constituencies show considerable division over these issues.

Overall, few people express a desire for less information in fieldwork publications, although 10% of the sample state that they would like to see less emphasis on description of the evidence and 19% that they would like to see less discussion of the experiences of those involved in the project. The latter figure is particularly significant given that fieldwork publications as they stand generally provide very little emphasis on such information. Analysis by constituency shows clear variation, with a greater proportion of undergraduates (57%), postgraduates (34%) and contractors (31%) arguing for more of such information than the cross-constituency average (28%). In the case of university staff, specialists, museum archaeologists, local society archaeologists, local government archaeologists, archaeologists working for national bodies and consultants there is considerable division over this issue, with the greater proportion of respondents stating that they would like the situation to remain the same.

4.6.4 Grey literature

The survey asked whether respondents felt that the quantity of grey literature (defined as `any work which is not issued for public sale/widespread distribution and does not have an ISBN/ISSN') constituted a problem for the discipline. Figure 4.41 shows that 50% of respondents felt that it does, with only 15.6% stating positively that it does not. However, the high percentage of respondents (35%) who either did not answer this question or who ticked the don't know category is significant, as it points both to ignorance about what grey literature is, and unawareness as to the extent of the genre. The breakdown of response by age and constituency indicates that such knowledge is very unevenly distributed. The breakdown also indicates that the constituencies which tend to see grey literature as problematic are, with the exception of university staff, those that are most likely to be using it: consultants, contractors, specialists, scientists, and those working in local government (see Figure 4.41 and compare with Figure 4.25 above). A far lower proportion of undergraduate and postgraduate students, independent archaeologists and local society members perceive it as a problem and the very high percentage of `don't know' responses (over 40% in each case) suggests as lack of familiarity. Analysis by age shows that a higher proportion of those aged between 23 and 54 years old perceive `grey literature' as problematic. Figure 4.42 further reinforces the association between those working in the discipline in various professional capacities and the perception of grey literature as problematic.

4.6.5 Synthesis of archaeological knowledge

Another area of concern that has been noted in the literature and at conferences, particularly since the introduction of PPG16/NPPG5 (& equivalents) and the associated growth in development-driven projects, is the relationship between fieldwork publications and research and publications concerned with the synthesis of archaeological knowledge. To gain a more systematic picture, the survey asked for views on the adequacy of the relationship between fieldwork publications and research/publications concerned with synthesis (see Figure 4.43). Those who considered there to be a problem were then asked what steps they felt should be taken to overcome it (see question 4.5a and 4.5b in the questionnaire, Appendix 3.1).

Overall, 47% of respondents felt the relationship to be inadequate, with only 15% stating categorically that they did not feel this to be the case. The high percentage of respondents who ticked the `don't know' category could be seen as a reflection of confusion over the question. However, analysis by constituency shows that this category is largely made up of undergraduate and postgraduate students, local society members and independent archaeologists - that is, the sectors often most distant from the actualities of development-driven archaeology. Conversely, the constituencies which see the relationship as particularly problematic include consultants, contractors, specialists, university staff and those working in local government - that is, those in development-driven archaeology's front line. For the most part, too, the `don't know' category makes up a much smaller percentage of the total population of these constituencies. The pattern of response is therefore broadly similar to that of the previous question concerning grey literature (Figure 4.41 above). Analysis by age shows a similar response pattern, with a higher proportion of those aged between 25 and 54 years old seeing the relationship between fieldwork publications and synthesis as inadequate (compare Figures 4.44 and 4.42).

Amongst those who consider the relationship to be inadequate, 79% feel that measures should be devised to encourage more research and publication which combine results from a number of fieldwork projects to produce broader syntheses (see Figure 4.45). The argument that fieldwork publications themselves should contain more synthesis was the least favoured solution. Nevertheless, some clearly see it as one component in providing a solution to this problem, and Figure 4.40 shows that 42% of the total sample would like to see more synthesis in fieldwork publications.

4.6.6 Dissemination of information to the public

Finally, respondents were asked whether they felt that fieldwork publications were an appropriate means to disseminate information to the public. Only 22% felt that they were. Those who don't considered that fieldwork publications are too technical, too difficult to obtain, and too costly for the purpose. Many referred to open days, exhibitions, publications specifically targeted at popular audiences, television and radio programmes as more appropriate methods of addressing the public.

4.7 Publication media

4.7.1 Access

The final section of the questionnaire dealt with access to, and attitudes towards, different publication media. In the first instance, those surveyed were asked about their access to the facilities and institutions associated with various types of communication media. These data have inevitable influence on the ways in which new media are regarded, and will need to be taken into account in relation to any policy development. Figure 4.46 shows that a high proportion of those surveyed (87%) currently have access to a society/university/institutional library with good archaeological coverage. Furthermore, between 49% and 60% of the sample currently have access to all other forms of media.

The data concerning plans for future access to existing media demonstrate that levels of access to libraries with good archaeological coverage and to microfiche readers are likely to remain stable, as very few people who currently do not have access stated that they had plans to gain it. In contrast, access to CD-ROM, the Internet and email is likely to rise considerably in the next five years. However, analysis by constituency also shows marked unevenness in access to the new(er) media, and in plans to gain it. Those based within a university are most likely to have current access to the Internet and CD-ROM (see Figures 4.47 and 4.48). In other constituencies, most of those who do not currently have access to the Internet intend to gain it in the next five years, so that by 2005 c 80% will have access. The proportion of respondents who intend to gain access to CD-ROM in the next quinquennium is much smaller. However, in the case of the CD-ROM and the Internet a noticeably low proportion of independent archaeologists and members of local societies currently have access and a high proportion of those without access as yet have no plans to obtain it. Analysis of access to different media by nation/region showed little variation (see tables in Appendix 4.5).

Respondents were asked to grade professionally published books and journals; photocopies and computer print out; computer screen; and microfiche reader in order of preference (see Appendix 4.5). Although over 50% of respondents had access to other publication media at the time of the survey, an overwhelming 92% placed books and journals as their first choice. The results are also very clear-cut for other media; 77% of respondents rank photocopies second, 65% rank computer screens third, and 73% rank microfiche readers fourth.

4.7.2 Computerised services

Respondents were asked how useful they found a range of computerised services in connection with their archaeological work/interests (Q5.3 in Appendix 3.1; Appendix 4.5 for reply data). Figure 4.49 shows that respondents find computerised library catalogues most useful with 70% stating that they find them either useful or sometimes so. The figure drops to c 40% in the case of bibliographic databases, archaeological publications on the Internet and institutional/personal web sites. The high percentage of respondents who selected the `don't know' category in respect of computerised services presumably reflects a lesser familiarity with them.

4.7.3 Publication mechanisms

Respondents were asked to comment on the medium they would like to see used for a given range of publications (Appendix 4.5), and were invited to select as many media per publication type as they wished. Figure 4.50 shows that, as might be expected, print was the favoured medium for all types of archaeological publication. Nevertheless, c 30% said that they would like to see the Internet being used for fieldwork publications, national, regional and local archaeological journals and grey literature. The Internet was less popular as a publication mechanism for period and regional syntheses, theoretical and methodological books, heritage and management books, and popular archaeological publications. Over 20% of the sample said they would like to see CD-ROM being used for popular archaeological and fieldwork publications.

If the same analysis is carried out solely on the basis of those individuals with current access to the Internet and CD-ROM, the figures concerning the use of these media rise by about 10% in each case. Nevertheless, print clearly remains most popular amongst this sub-set, save for grey literature, where the Internet is selected by almost the same percentage of respondents as conventional print (46% and 47%, respectively).

4.7.4 Fieldwork publication on the Internet

Respondents were then asked whether they had used archaeological fieldwork publications on the Internet. Just under one third of the total sample had done so by the time of the survey. Interestingly this figure only rises to 47% when only those respondents with current Internet access are considered. This shows that access is not the main factor contributing to the dearth of use. Analysis by age shows that use falls rapidly amongst those aged 55 or above (see Figure 4.51). Most of those who had used fieldwork publications on the Internet said that they felt that they had sufficient skills to view or use all the features of the publication (77%), although age group was again a factor: the figure fell in the case of those aged 55 or above (c 50-60%).

Respondents who had used fieldwork publications on the Internet were then asked to comment on how they compared with conventional publications in a number of specified areas. Figure 4.52 shows that only 15% felt that electronic publications were better than conventional print in respect to the presentation of data, whilst 19% felt that they were better in terms of the presentation of graphic material. In contrast, 33% felt that they were worse in the presentation of data and 46% in terms of graphics. In comparing electronic search facilities with conventional indexes, 41% felt that the former were better, in contrast with 18% who felt they were worse. Respondents were fairly evenly divided over the comparison between the non-linear, hypertext narrative associated with electronic publications and the conventional linear narrative of print publications, with 21% finding electronic publications better and 17% finding them worse in this respect.

All respondents were asked several general questions about publication on the Internet (see wording for Q5.6, 5.7 and 5.8 in Appendix 3.1, and Appendix 4.5). Overall 24% of everyone sampled felt that the incorporation of 3D modelling, video and sound would be `very useful' and 40% felt that it would be `somewhat useful' for their requirements. When asked whether project archives should be available on the Internet, 52% of the total sample said that they should, with only 19% stating categorically that they should not (see Figure 4.53). Analysis by age shows that over 60% of those between 19 and 34 consider that archives should be available on the Internet, which again emphasises the influence of age on attitudes towards electronic media. When the same question is analysed on the basis of the sub-set who did have access to the Internet at the time of the survey, the overall percentage of those who would like to see electronically-available archives rises by 12% (to 64%), whereas the figure for those who do not favour Internet access falls by only 1% (to 18%).

Finally, when asked whether they would be happy to buy access to fieldwork publications on the Internet if they had the opportunity to browse them first, 37% of the total sample said yes, in contrast with 28% who said no. Within the subset who had Internet access at the time of the survey, 45% said that they would be prepared to buy access, but again 28% said that they would not. The high level of respondents who ticked the `don't know' category or did not answer this question reflects the lack of familiarity with the Internet amongst a considerable proportion of the sample. Even amongst those who do have Internet access, considerable indecision is evident about the issue of paying for Internet publications, with 27% saying that they did not know whether they would be prepared to pay.


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