The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland has been an active publisher of Scotland’s history and archaeology since 1792; the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (PSAS), has been the primary journal dealing with Scotland’s past in its British and European context since 1851. Publication in PSAS has often been seen by many archaeologists as the ‘end’ of the research cycle: excavation is followed by publication, and the process is complete. However, there is increasing awareness that the final report alone does not tell the whole story, and many readers would also like to examine raw data. In 2001, the Society created a new, fully peer reviewed, freely available online journal, Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports (SAIR), so was an early adopter of Open Access in an archaeological context. SAIR was intended to provide a new, lower- cost publication outlet for detailed archaeological reports; over the last fifteen years it has evolved to include the publication of many different types of projects – including large-scale surveys, gazetteers and conference proceedings – which would not be possible or desirable to publish in print for various reasons.
The Society also runs the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF). Launched in 2012, this collaborative project brought together experts from a range of disciplines to compile a peer-reviewed summary of our archaeological knowledge up to that point and agree where future research should be directed. The entirety of Scottish archaeology was split into nine panel reports, all of which are available for free download from the project website or can be viewed on the wiki- style website itself. As such, it is it the first framework of its kind in archaeology. The Society is contemplating how best to take PSAS, SAIR and ScARF forward in an Open Access world. Our audiences are increasing, both in number and in variety. There have been over 400,000 downloads from Society’s publication archives held by the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) since 2011, and over the past three years ScARF has seen over 262,000 page views. And yet these final reports are only the tip of the archaeological data mountain. As an archaeological publisher, if we aspire to the true aims of Open Access, we should be making the original data available for re- use, data mining and new interpretations. But how can these aspirations be carried out in practice when the data is so vast and varied? As a small independent organisation, we must look to collaboration. How best to do this? One possibility is drawing from the models created by computer scientists and scientific publishers more used to dealing with raw data rather than ‘coffeetable books’. However, making the data available is not only a technological issue – there are already data downloads available
in parts of ScARF and SAIR, for example – but a cultural one. Many archaeologists are cautious about openly sharing raw data and we must consider how best to reconcile the needs of authors and remaining true to our own aims of truly open knowledge.
Author - O’Riordan, Emma Jane, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Co-author(s) - Osborne-Martin, Erin, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh,
United Kingdom (Presenting author)