BAJR Federation Archaeology

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I just saw the advert for the new IFA bursary in geophysics based at the University of Bradford. I think that this particular bursary doenst really fit in with the idea of the scheme and I was wondering what other peoples thoughts were? To save you reading it I have pasted the particular part which bothers me below;

"Applicants should recently have completed a degree course which includes geophysical surveys, or have substantial experience in geophysical data collection within a commercial environment, at the equivalent of Practitioner level of the Institute for Archaeologists. It would be desirable for applicants to have experience with Microsoft Access, GIS software, collecting and processing magnetometer and earth resistance data for archaeological prospection and writing reports to a specified brief."

I thought the purpose of these bursarys was to teach people new skills but this advert is asking for people who already have significant experience. I understand that geophysics is a very complex skill and the science behind it is incredibly difficult but surely to be part of this scheme they should have atleast pretended to be more open minded regarding potential applicants. The way the advert is written it made me think that rather than really endorsing the idea of the IFA bursarys they are looking for cheap labour to process what I can only imagine is a huge ammount of data in the Time Team archive.

I dont remember the exact wording of the previous bursarys but from the people I know who have got them or gone for interviews for the positions I feel like they were much more inclusive. The scheme as a whole is great and I really like the idea of it I just feel like this one is maybe taking advantage a little. Anyone agree/disagree?

(ps sorry this is a bit rambling its been a stupidly long day)
May I suggest that you email the IfA about this... and ask them to report on the reasoning.

I do see what you mean... so it would be interesting to see the reply.

"Gie's a Job.."
Prof. 'Dolly' Parton
It looks to me as if this is a 'cut and paste' bursary advert.

The first paragraph clearly states that all aspects of training required for the geophysics post will be provided, but the third paragraph asks for substantial experience that clearly relegates paragraph 1 to a platitude.

I also suspect that the bursary offered for the degree of experience required makes this a seriously low paid post (but that's just a personal opinion....) and wonder why the 'gift' of this archive to Bradford Uni doesn't come with a substantial Time Team endowment...

If you're already working in commercial geophysics and experienced enough to be writing reports, why would you need a training bursary? Unless all the work has dried up...

I went for one of these training bursaries a couple of years ago and got to interview but didn't get the job. I had fairly minimal experience of the specialism at university, and it was a good practice interview. In some disciplines with very little training the bursary model works, but in others it is more problematic.
Kevin wrote...I also suspect that the bursary offered for the degree of experience required makes this a seriously low paid post (but that's just a personal opinion....) and wonder why the 'gift' of this archive to Bradford Uni doesn't come with a substantial Time Team endowment...

Quite. On a general and non-specific point, it is rather unfortunate that those organisations who are in a position to make a positive impact and lead the way by following best practice often fail to do so.
The requirements appear a little contradictory. On the one hand applicants need only to have done a geophysics module at undergrad level, which can be no more than an introduction. This is certainly nowhere near equivalent to the commercial experience described. On the other hand I do accept that someone experienced in data collection and straightforward commercial processing may not have much idea how or why it all works: sad but true in many (far from all) cases. I have the impression that the idea is to teach someone the theory behind the walking up and down bit, ultimately to improve reporting and archiving standards in the commercial sphere.
I am saddened to see such resentment against this particular bursary and would like to comment and also clarify some misunderstandings. I think it is a fantastic opportunity and yes, it does require some prior experience.

First of all, at nearly ?14,900 I don't think it is an exploitative job at all. And certainly not a "survey monkey" or "data slave". Making the assumption that this were so is rather far fetched, lets say. As stated in the original advert, I am very happy to email anyone the further particulars. The excerpt posted here doesn't really do the job justice.

Although the trainee will also undertake practical geophysics work and process resulting data, this is nothing that cannot be learned elsewhere. We teach this in our own UG and PG degree courses (the latter also includes the underpinning physics), part of it is included in other degree programmes and it is embedded in commercial archaeological practice.

Instead, the Bursary offers something new that is not readily available: training in the thorny issue of data documentation and archiving. Some of you may remember my Guide to Good Practice on this subject (we will start work on a new edition next year) and you may already have despaired yourself over the problems of re-using somebody else’s data. That’s what this Workplace Bursary is about.

And that is also the reason why the person needs to have some understanding of geophysics; otherwise it is virtually impossible to get to the archiving bit within a year. Having the Time Team Geophysical Archive to work on is a fantastic opportunity. And yes, some funding would be good - I am well aware of this, believe me!

As is usual these days the specifications are separated into required and desirable. And yes, the desirable expertise is quite far reaching: the more the better, and will help to get to the archiving more quickly. I thought the "required" qualities are at a reasonable level but I do take the point that what you learn in a basic UG degree may not at all be comparable with on-the-job training gained over many years. However, catching all eventualities in a short advert seems impossible to me. I would be pleased to receive further comments as to how to rephrase this for our next job advert.

So the bottom line is: this is not a Workplace Bursary to train people from scratch as to how to do archaeological geophysics – there are places already to learn this, including our own MSc Archaeological Prospection (four funded places, if I may add this plug here!). Instead this is an outstanding opportunity to learn something new: how best to document and archive archaeological geophysics data.

I will be very interested in further posts on this forum!

Thanks Armin, glad you could come and add this to the debate.

Its better that people hear your 'side'

the details on the four funded posts are here:
and here:

"Gie's a Job.."
Prof. 'Dolly' Parton
Thanks for the reply Armin you have certainly cleared up some of my reservations regarding the Bursary, I can now see how it fits in to the scheme a little clearer.

I know that whoever gets this bursary will undoubtedly gain a great deal of experience my main reservation was that the advert was worded in a way that I felt would put off people with only a small ammount of experience and not make it clear why people with substantial experience should be interested.

I Understand the reason for asking for experience but think the way that it was written has the potential to put people off. Perhaps removing the word substantial in the sentance "or have substantial experience in geophysical data collection within a commercial environment" would have softened the requirements slightly. Also I think that the title "Workplace Learning Bursary in Archaeological Geophysics" is slightly misleading although I admit I cant think of a better one.

Thanks again for replying and I hope that this discussion hasn't dettered anyone who would otherwise have been interested in the position from applying, as that was the opposite of my intentions.
I too would suggest the removal of the word substantial ... and would be happy to remove it.
I don't think this should deter people from applying, as - knowing the work of Armin - the opportunity of some first class learning is great.

"Gie's a Job.."
Prof. 'Dolly' Parton
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