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Archive for October 26th, 2021

Open Access Archaeology: From Paperback, to Open in Practice, to Public Benefit

Kirsty26 October 2021

For Open Access Week 2021, Archaeology South-East is pleased to announce the Open Access release of eight books from their Spoilheap Publication back catalogue!

Alt text: A pile of books fills the frame, showing partial front covers. They include titles such as “The Horse Butchery Site”, “How Houses Evolved”, and “Alien Cities”. Their front covers have a uniform style and depict different archaeological finds, sites and buildings.Introduction

Archaeology South-East (ASE) is a professional archaeological unit operating within the Centre of Applied Archaeology at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. ASE is an accredited Registered Organisation of the Chartered Institute of Archaeology (CIfA) and our staff work across the historic environment and heritage sector providing a range of specialist research services to a diverse client base.

The bulk of our commercial work comprises planning-led, developer-funded projects, in which we are commissioned to carry out archaeological investigations ahead of building work on projects like housing developments and infrastructure. Current planning policy requires any development that could impact archaeological remains to either adapt its design to avoid potential archaeology, or fund ‘preservation by record’ – i.e. a full archaeological investigation (and therefore destruction) of any remains that will be impacted by development.

Archaeological investigations underway on the Isle of Grain-Shorne gas transmission pipeline, alongside preparation for the pipeline construction.

This process includes excavation of course, but also cleaning and conservation of finds, analysis of artefacts and environmental remains, archaeological illustration and photography, and interpretation of all this data. Our investigations form a research archive preserving all records and finds for future users, and can result in many different outputs including reports, blog posts, museum displays, and publications.

Open Access publication in archaeology is becoming more and more common. Unpublished archaeological site reports, data and some archaeology journals and monographs are available via the Archaeology Data Service, a digital repository for heritage data. Various publishers, including UCL Press, are making new archaeology books available in both digital Open Access and hard copy print options.

So how could we at ASE further increase our contribution to Open Access Archaeology?

From Paperback…

Since 2013, ASE has self-published major sites and research in a series of books under the SpoilHeap Publications imprint. These books were only available in hard copy paperback, but early this year a small team from ASE, with support from UCL colleagues, started working to make our back catalogue Open Access – and plan an Open Access future for our SpoilHeap books.

…to Open in Practice…

The practicalities of making our books Open Access was slightly more complex than sticking a pdf version on our website! Thankfully we could draw on the expertise of our UCL colleagues who have been embedded in the process for a lot longer than us.

Lara Speicher, Head of Publishing at UCL Press, gave us an idea of the work we needed to do before we could hit the ‘upload’ button. On her recommendations our team picked through each of our books, hyperlinking tables of contents, figures and tables with their corresponding location in-text. We had to get our heads around new ISBN numbers, Creative Commons licenses, and seek new permissions for images from the copyright holders.

We’ve also been working closely with Open Access Publications Manager Dominic Allington-Smith, who has been teaching us how to use UCL Discovery, UCL’s open access repository, where our books will be hosted. He’s also guided us through minting DOIs, and we’re really grateful for his help.

The result of this collaboration is that we now have EIGHT of our books published as open access and freely available in downloadable PDF format. They detail archaeological finds from a range of periods and sites including a Roman villa, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, a medieval hospital, and much more, from across the south-east of England. You can view the full list at the end of this post.

More books will be released in the open access format in the next couple of months, and we’re delighted to say that in the future our SpoilHeap books will be released as hardcopies and digital Open Access at the same time. We’ll be using UCL Discovery to host the Open Access versions, which will also allow us to upload supplementary outputs like extended, in-depth specialist reports, 3D models and much more. We’ll also be using the UCL Research Data Repository to make our data readily available too.

…to Public Benefit

As well as making it easier for our fellow archaeologists to view and engage with our research and data, part of our remit for going Open Access is public benefit.

One of the core purposes of archaeological work, and arguably one of the easiest ways in which archaeology can provide public benefit, is through knowledge gain (CIfA 2021). Sharing the archaeological results from a site and making that accessible to the communities where our projects are located can enhance local community strength and identity (ibid.).

ASE geoarchaeologist Dr Matt Pope giving a public talk on archaeological investigations (2018).

We hope that by making our high-quality research outputs more accessible, alongside our program of digital outreach making our research more appealing to wider audiences, will allow as many people as possible to benefit from our research.

View our full list of publications on our website, where you can find links to purchase hard copies as well as download Open Access versions where available. The titles currently available are:

Keep up to date with our Open Access journey, along with news of archaeological discoveries and more, by following Archaeology South-East on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. We also have a YouTube channel and a podcast series!

References

CIfA 2021 Professional Practice Paper: Delivering public benefit. https://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/Delivering_public_benefit.pdf