DataTrain for archaeology and for social anthropology

Modules are available on Jorum:


Licensed CC-BY-NC-SA

Structure of course:


  1. Creating and managing research data in archaeology: an overview
  2. Data lifecycles and management plans
  3. Working with digital data
  4. Rights and digital data
  5. E-Theses and supplementary digital data
  6. Archiving digital data
  7. Post-Graduate data management plans
  8. Project and professional data: data management on post-doctoral research projects and beyond

The teaching modules were run as a trial course in March 2011, as part of a post-graduate course in Digital Skills for Dissertation and Publications, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. The data management course comprised 4 x 2 hour sessions:

  1. Creating and Managing Data - Defining post-graduate research data
  2. Working with Digital Data
    File structure, naming, and formats
    E-theses and supplementary digital data
    Post-Graduate Data Management Plans
  3. Project and Professional Data
    Data management for larger research projects
  4. Archiving and Re-using Data
    Depositing digital data
    Intellectual Property Rights and research data

The slides and notes have been kept as simple and as straight forward as possible. They are not meant to be exhaustive in the information they contain. Rather, they provide an overview of the general issues regarding data management.

Each module has been designed to take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Six of the eight presentations have between 10 and 16 slides (including front title and end acknowledgement slides). The two longer modules are Module 3: Working with Digital Data; and Module 8: Project and Professional Data.

Module 3 (Working with Digital Data) has 38 slides many of which contain a lot of information on different file types and formats. This information has been summarised from the Archaeology Data Service’s Guides to Good Practice, and content most relevant to post-graduate students is presented in a straight forward way. Rather that spending an hour presenting Module 3 in detail (and boring the students to death), it is suggested that the slides be presented as a ‘lightening tour’ of the practical issues of working with digital data. The slides can then be made available for future reference by the students as a handout.

Module 8 (Project and Professional Data) provides an introduction into data management at a higher level of research, including writing AHRC Technical Appendices. While this can be run as a stand alone session, given that this is the desired career path of many doctoral students, and the fact that many doctoral students carry out their research as part of larger projects, the aim of the module is to round off the post-graduate course by looking forward beyond the submission of a PhD Thesis.

Comments regarding discipline-specific nature (from notes for part 1 of course):

Can archaeology be considered in any way a special case in terms of how we create, manage, and archive digital data?
The simple answer is no. The issues of how best to manage digital data and safeguard it preservation in the long term are broadly the same across all disciplines.
The same goes for individual archaeological projects. Even though some might think that their own project is a special case in terms of complicated digital data, or for the fact that they will produce very little in the way of digital data, at the heart of it, the same issues apply, just on a larger or smaller scale.
A key issue which does vary from discipline to discipline is that of what are private data and what are public data. This does arise in archaeology particularly in regard to sensitive data of site or artefact locations, or sensitive personal data collected during the course of a research project.
What perhaps sets archaeology apart from other disciplines is the appreciation of the historical significance of what we do. And the fact that very often, the practice of archaeology is a destructive process and the physical and digital data obtained represent a unique archive – an experiment that cannot be repeated.

However... primary data is often paper-based. Notes, sketches etc.

One area of discipline-specificness is the selection of bodies that provide definitions of good practise and/or archiving facilities (e.g. Archaeology Data Service). Who are these for digital audio research ? AES ? JASA ? ISMIR ? IEEE ? Others ?

Includes details of copyright terms for 8 types of creative works: Literary; Artistic; Sound; Typographic; Broadcasts; Dramatic; Film; and Musical.

For post-grad students, e-Theses are covered. Publishing a digital copy of a thesis makes it "published" and means that all copyright details need to be ironed out.

Part 8 is largely related to resources (arch. specific).

Social Anthropology

A different approach...
  • Basic module - aimed at pre-fieldwork PhD students, fundamentals
  • Advanced module - metadata, ethics, IPR, FoI, data protection, tools
  • Writing-up module - for PhD students and early stage researchers, includes info on long-term archiving

Can be combined to produce a 1-day course.

Mentions reference management. Line between Reserach Data Management and Data Management ?

Lots of info. on data capture - digitizing data.

Points to interesting list of formats from the UK Data Archive":

Posting things on CDs/DVDs might be a good idea for infrequent sharing of large amounts of data. Beware of security issues, which can be sidestepped by encryption (more later); and of decay/damage.

In the Advanced module, examples are drawn from the discipline.