University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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When, what, where, how and who?
Sarah May

Last modified: 2011-12-20


Archaeologists have long clamoured for better access to each other's data. The detailed and feircely contested structure of excavation recording is entirely predicated on the notion that other people will use not only our results, but any and every observation down to the Munsell colour of the topsoil. But examples of reworking data remain scanty, and the experience of working with other people's archives tends towards premature ageing. Many people have argued that this is because of the technological failures of paper and hybrid paper/digital archives and look forward to the day when we can cross corelate inclusions within  primary pit fills right across Europe. The challenge, or course, is that while we can't practically answer detailed questions, our brains shy away from asking them. This paper will look at the process of questioning multiple data sets as it exists today to see which areas could do with better support.   When are researchers asking questions of multiple sites? At what stages in ther careers and at what stages of a project? What kinds of information are they looking for and at what level of synthesis? Where are they when they are asking these questions, and to what extent are their questions spatially bound? How to they formulate, record and pursue these questions? How formal and clear are their search procedures? And perhaps most importantly who is asking questions of multiple sites?


Research Questions; search; data structure