e-Research and archaeological datasets

Hardy, Dianna, Chang, Nigel, and Atkinson, Ian (2008) e-Research and archaeological datasets. The Bulletin of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, 32. pp. 1-6.

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Abstract

In the 2006 edition of the AlMA journal (Hardy et al, 2006) we reported preliminary research undertaken in order to determine the effectiveness of combining the federation of maritime archaeological data with semantic search to enable archaeologists to share data. The central question for this research has been to discover whether archaeological information can be made available via a data sharing mechanism. Two additional research questions were also considered: 1. Are there tools available to federate or combine these datasets? 2. How can the search results be appropriately targeted when searching across a variety of data sources? This paper reports the results of the research which indicate that while it is possible to allow access to maritime archaeological datasets using a data federation system that a1so employs semantic search (Richards 2006), the usability of such a system can be problematic given the current state of maritime archaeological data and the relatively low level of access to IT infrastructure and technical support by archaeologists, Archaeological datasets are often created in an ad hoc, as-needed fashion that results in the production of files and databases without a uniform structure across archaeological projects (Snow 2006). Due to this lack of consistency across databases, it is very difficult to create a centralized data sharing system, that is capable of handling a multitude offormats and internal organizational schemes. In addition, for an archaeologist to use a data sharing system, significant infrastructure (i.e. underlying networks, software and hardware) must be put in place. At present these support mechanisms are still in the development stage especially as they pertain to research in the social sciences. During the course of this research, a survey of archaeologists working in Australia was undertaken, and then using the information gained from the survey. two software implementation studies were implemented using sample datasets provided by three maritime archaeological research groups (Heritage NSW, Heritage Victoria and Townsville Maritime Museum). Each software study considered the effectiveness of an individual software program in providing a mechanism for the federation of data and semantic searching of data. A primary concern in accessing data is to find resources that are of value to the researcher. Federation and semantic search provide this ability, A federation is a collection of distributed resources that can be searched as if they were grouped ,vithin a single system, The data appears to be located in a central data store, but is actually found in many separate locations. Semantic interoperability, or semantic search entails having a system with the ability to search for digital information across multiple sources that is capable of discerning which datasets are of interest through the use of metadata or schemas.

Item ID: 6048
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: e-Research; maritime archaeology; schema; Australia; archer
ISSN: 0813-2801
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2010 22:58
FoR Codes: 08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0806 Information Systems > 080608 Information Systems Development Methodologies @ 60%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210110 Maritime Archaeology @ 40%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950299 Communication not elsewhere classified @ 60%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950399 Heritage not elsewhere classified @ 40%
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