Archaeology and E-Scholarship

Dodging between rainstorms and trying to finish up my Visualisation in Archaeology paper, I managed to make it to the “Taking Control of Your Own Publications” E-Scholarship presentation at the department. Sadly, as usual, it was poorly attended–I really wanted to also check out a talk in Near Eastern studies, but at a place like UC Berkeley you can easily get overwhelmed by the number of interesting events and talks going on. Still, I thought a few more students would be at the talk.

Anyway, it was important that I go, as I was griping in my freshly written paper about the lack of quality institutional support for Open Access scholarship, and this was put into my lap. As you may or may not know, it is International Open Access week and E-Scholarship managed to launch a redesign of their webpage and announce their intention to head a new direction, from being a repository to a publishing and research-oriented set of tools for scholars at the University of California campuses. It makes a lot of sense, as universities in the United States are funded by the taxpayers, who foot the bill for faculty wages and research costs, and then have to pay for the same research again when universities have to buy access to the major journals, and then the average taxpayer STILL doesn’t have access to the research–they’d have to pay for it a THIRD time at an exorbitant rate to buy it for themselves from the journal.

Open Access advocates at this point are nodding their heads weakly. It’s been a long and tiresome fight, and there’s still no guarantee that these big, institutional archives are actually the answer. I asked a couple of pretty simple questions:

Q: So once you are no longer affiliated with the University of California system (as I will presumably get my PhD in a couple of years), do you still get to publish with E-Scholarship?

A: No, with some qualifications, such as in the instance of journal publishing, wherein the journal that you found with E-Scholarship will still be supported after you graduate.

Q: What about non-traditional publications?

A: They are working on integrating data sets, but aren’t quite there yet.

I wanted to ask what the back-up plan would be, and how far away their data storage was from the Hayward fault, but I didn’t want to harass the nice presenter.

While I am really happy to have this kind of support for my research and publications, I guess I just see it as one more tool to add to the Edupunk kit. It might even become the most important tool, but I still can’t emphasize the importance of spreading your research out over a number of platforms, both for wider public dissemination as as a fail-safe measure.

E-Scholarship still does not meet some of the specific needs for wholesale archaeology publishing in that there is not a place for integrated GIS data, images, and the connection to museum collections that we need. I am hoping that when (if?) other large institutional archives come online they will be able to integrate their data. Sadly, when I tried to upload some of my work, I repeatedly got an error message–frustrating as their system requires a decent amount of data entry leading up to that point.

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4 responses to “Archaeology and E-Scholarship

  1. I assume you already know about these folks:
    http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/
    Online publication of archaeological data (and some other stuff). Run by an archaeologist who now teaches at Berkeley’s Info School.

  2. Yeah, I know about it. Honestly, I find the AA rather opaque and unhelpful and their wiki has been toast for a long time.

  3. Yeah, it’s created by data geeks for data geeks. While raw (like, sushi-raw) research data ought to be freely available (from a philosophical standpoint), it’s debatable what purpose it really serves. It’s helpful that they’re thinking through the format in which archaeological research data should be stored, it kind of feels like a solution in search of a problem (like so many academic projects…).

  4. Pingback: Beginnings « Quite Far Afield

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