- Enhancing excavations for archaeologists
Enhancing excavations for archaeologists
Enhanced Publication of the Month for April 2011: JALC
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Starting in February 2011, SURFfoundation is awarding a monthly prize for the Enhanced Publication (EP) of the Month. Enhanced publications are a new type of scientific/scholarly communication whereby researchers make publications available online in combination with other material. This includes such things as research reports that are made publicly available on the Internet or film clips to explain the research method to the general public.
To highlight the possibilities offered by enhanced publications, SURFfoundation will be awarding a prize each month in 2011 to a good example of such enhancement.
At the request of archaeologists, the open access Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries (JALC) has already enhanced a number of articles with material that is otherwise difficult to present in context. The articles contain extensive digital documentation, something that is typical of archaeology. The material includes pictures of excavations, geographical information, tables, and graphs. An enhanced publication gives the archaeologists a dynamic environment in which to present research in context.
The Enhanced Publication of the Month for April 2011 is an archaeological study entitled Mesolithic and Neolithic human remains in the Netherlands: physical anthropological and stable isotope investigations. It allows archaeologists to view excavation sites and excavated artefacts on dynamically generated maps. This makes it easier to understand the sites as shown on the maps. Readers can click, for example, to include or exclude certain information from presentation in a table or graph. The enhanced publication gives researchers easy access to the complete set of research data.
In April’s prizewinning enhanced publication, a paperclip icon indicates an enhancement. This makes it possible to zoom in via Google maps on the excavation sites referred to in the article.
Permanent storage for use in later research
The publisher of the JALC, Amsterdam University Press, is also storing all the research data for later use. This is being done in collaboration with the Digital Production Centre at the University of Amsterdam and DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services, an institute under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). Archaeologists are provided with the research information that they need by combining the research data and the article in an enhanced publication. This also helps them to store the information in a permanently accessible form for use in future research.
MilcoWansleeben, E-depot Archaeology Project Coordinator and a researcher with the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University, has been interested in the effective presentation and optimum reuse of archaeological information for some years now. “There’s a certain tension,” he says, “between archiving a document permanently and publishing it on paper. The JALC takes up a middle position between the two, in the sense that it makes data available to researchers in a dynamic manner. Publishing on paper has certain limitations – for example, you can’t show all the maps, and they aren’t all in colour. You also can’t present all the details effectively in a general overview. All of this becomes possible within a dynamic environment. In an enhanced publication, you can zoom in on maps, for example, and turn functions on and off at will.“
• Mesolithic and Neolithic human remains in the Netherlands: physical anthropological and stable isotope investigations, E. Smits and J. van der Plicht
• The JALC project
• Film clip about the enhanced publications in the JALC
• Enhanced publications: www.surffoundation.nl/enhancedpublications
About the SURFshare programme
The aim of SURFshare is to provide better access to high-quality scientific and scholarly knowledge using the very latest ICT technology. This is possible because ICT not only speeds up standard communication processes but changes the nature of the knowledge chain itself. The growing number of facilities for knowledge sharing and dissemination mean that traditional publications, tools (models, algorithms, visualisations) and research data are increasingly interwoven.
SURFfoundation’s intention in the SURFshare programme is to create a common infrastructure that will facilitate access to research information and make it possible for researchers to share scientific and scholarly information.