Raw Data Now!

Stefano Costa steko@iosa.it
Fri Mar 20 20:53:28 CET 2009

Il giorno gio, 19/03/2009 alle 13.04 -0700, mhall@berkeley.edu ha
> Part of the problem I think for archaeologists with the open access
> model is the page fees--I've yet to see where any of the free,
> open-source, on-line journals will waive them.
> Even when I was employed with a university, they made it clear to me,
> page fees came out of my grant/pocket.

the relative wealthiness of other disciplines if compared to archaeology
is an undeniable truth, but:

      * this doesn't apply for ALL of archaeology. In fact there are
        archaeological research projects that involve dozens of people
        and organizations that actually have lots of money (from private
        foundations or from governments)
      * it should be also remarked that in any project, there is always
        some cost for publication to take into account: if a large
        project has not publication costs in its budget, it could be a
        problem of bad planning choices
      * just like Open Source, Open Access doesn't mean "free as in
        beer", even though we all know that for Free and Open Source
        Software this applies for many end users. Someone has to get
        things done in order for an e-journal to be online, with a
        serious peer review workflow, etc, and that someone clearly has
        to be paid. So it's clear that somebody has to pay.

It's great to see that PlosOne has interest in archaeology (I follow it
from the very beginning and I'm happy all the times I can read some
paleoanthropology, palaeopathology or palaeo-x there), and I think the
"only" major problem would be acceptance of such a revolutionary medium
by the archaeological (academic) community. I guess that the need for
peer review would make it necessary to involve a number of people from
established positions in academia, so also this problem could be easily
solved. However, gaining reputation is not a quick process IMHO (at
least not reasoning at 2.0 speed).

But, coming back to the original topic proposed by Roberto, we need Raw
Data Now!

Raw data doesn't suffer from all the limitations and requirements of
scientific literature. Building repositories is something other
disciplines have been doing doing for years now. Archaeologists have
hundreds of databases just waiting for an URL to become available for
other archaeologists, other researchers and also for the "general"
public (i.e. the tax-payers). There are technical issues, and not
everyone is able to build a web service around their database. My take
on this topic is:
     1. get your data out, perfection will come later;
     2. avoid locking your data in proprietary formats;
     3. prefer free and open source software for the editing and storage
        of your data;

If you're more on the humanities side of archaeology, and you think
"data" doesn't mean anything to you, then please take your EndNote or
Zotero bibliographic database, export it into a readable format and
publish it on the web. Bibliographies are much like data for humanities,
even though they're not everything.

I think this topic is crucial. I'd like to hear from more people about


Stefano Costa
http://www.iosa.it/ Open Archaeology
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