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New Poll
Interesting about the new poll... Are Digger kept informed about whats going on.

At teh moment 2/3rds of Diggers say no and 2/3rds of supervisors and project officers say yes...

a contradiction
I've been following this poll with some interest, and I have to say the results are saddening (and also make me wonder why I waste so much time writing briefs, if nobody reads them!).

I'm guessing that most sites will have a fair amount of documentation before work starts - a desk top, brief, and wsi - and these should be available on the site. And then people should use their breaks to have a look at them, too. Maybe we curators could ask to see that they are on the site - would that help?

I have to say though, that the level of engagement prople have with what they are digging varies tremendously - not only, obviously, when the digging is good, but seems to widely swing depending on what unit is involved. Some seem to actively encourage discussion - others, sadly, don't. Why is this, do y'all reckon?
Thats a good point about ensuring that the pre digging research and documentation is onsite.. and read!

Here is a line from correspondance that I sent to a Unit prior to them going out in the field.

"...I feel that a short synthesis of the present work (a paragraph or two) and a look at the relationship between the village and the chapel and the route on which this development site sits would be beneficial to understanding the reason for the application requiring archaeological works. I like to see that the archaeologist in the field have a clear understanding of why they are there and what they are likely to find prior to fieldwork...."

Only by engaging those who dig the site can any real feeling of professionalism come abround. In return... they could ask why... though that can often elicit the reply - because I tell you!

Even the most sterile field can become interesting if you discuss why it is sterile, what is happening in the viscinity, what made the curator think there would be ... what is the descision making process... etc

A view from an outsider (but hopefully an informed outsider, with his nose pressed firmly against the window):

The poll: you would probably get similar results in most trades or professins, I suspect. When I had a proper job I felt quite strongly about it, and went to some trouble to involve my pawns and underlings and to keep them in the picture. If nothing else it made my job easier and more fun.

Mr/Ms Lizard: agreed, but why should staff have to read the stuff in their break time? It is work related after all.

What a pity that you and BAJR actually have to state what appears to be the obvious in your briefs and whatnot!

Today, Bradford. Tomorrow, well, Bradford probably.
As a general rule, most field types don`t get to see the written material issued to adults. As another and equally depressing rule, a good quantity of supervisors and above have no idea either. Field archaeologists, on the whole, are simply seen as labourers with a degree. I have only worked for a handful of organisations where I have felt pro-actively embedded in the process, tiz why I am still wiv em.....
Another thingBig Grin-Sorry guys, not reading things during my break because staff could`nt be bothered to brief their workers during their own time. Briefings should be an endemic and integral component to any professional project. Teams excavating without briefings and, on a site where communication is selective are simply cutting holes.I would invite curators to communicate with the diggers, best source on the realities. The moment a document is agreed and finalised, a compromise is reached. How that document relates to the inevitable further compromises on sites restricted by, sometimes child-like assessments of time budgets- diggers would be at an advantage if they understood the previously agreed mitigation.If staff and curators began engaging with the diggers (we are archaeologists-your reports won`t intimidate us-honest) on a professional level and, as standard practise, who knows, another ten (IFA)years and we might start looking professional....Big Grin
I actually specify in the letter of instruction that the spec and assessment should be read by the person in charge on site. I should not have too but I have found it neccessary.

I also try and talk to the diggers when I am doing a monitoring visit. Some organisations like to keep me in the dark and on one site I was ordered off the site by the supervisor because my presence was stressing him.

On another site I asked for more of a feature to be excavated and was told bluntly that the spec did not allow him to do it.

There is a difference between what is intended and what happens on site.

It is naive to pretend otherwise but the people compiling these documents should in fact be aware of this.

In reality about 1 page of a spec is project specific and the rest is auto generated - so what is the point of reading it all.

On one project I recently did we generated about 600 pages of infomation before the field work. It takes a good day or so to read it all. I think in total about 12 different people worked on the site and the costs of them reading all the material would have about 2k - a measurable proportion of the cost.

Where do you stop if you are digging in town x should everybody be given time to do background reading? Imagine this for a place like Caerleon. Then of course everybody must read PPG 16, The 1979 Act and all the other documents at least once a quarter.

I nearly forgot - there are all the other planning documents like the ecology and tree report - so everybody understands why it is important not to damage the routes of trees.

Then there are the regional research aggendas and the local plan policies.

Thus we could have a 1 day evaluation which finds nothing and the cost would be:

writing spec 170
on site 150
background research 2000
writing a report saying there is nothing there 800

What is required is a 1-2 page overview of what the project is about archaeologically and from a development point of view. A page of variations to a standard spec. This can be culled from the various documents produced anyway and given to staff to read in the van on the way to site.

A balance is needed.

Balance - one of favouriute words! I think that is what Mr BAJR was saying too - a succint summary so everyone knows what's going on and why. It is for the hierarchy to determine who reads what (without being silly, a Reading Schedule is not required!) on a sort of need to know basis - the "higher" up the "chain" the more you need to be aware of - regional research agenda and so on. But surely all staff should have a induction session on day 1 - this is what we're doing and why.

I totally agree with Doc Pete about auto-gen documents. It is the same or worse in constructin, where the Spec(s) and Bills run to several thick volumes, before you even start on the drawings. Of course every brickie and sparky isn't expected to read the lot, but someone has to. Most of it is indeed standard stuff, but it must be read in case something isn't - it is not uncommon for a subby to assume that say duct insulation is of a common or garden type, and egts upset whene he;s told to rip it out and put the specified stuff on. "But it's what we always do....." It's his project manager who should have checked the spec.

Frankly, whatever the industry, poor or inappropriate briefing and involvement of staff is sheer bad management practice, in my opinion.

Today, Bradford. Tomorrow, well, Bradford probably.
Quote:quote: tree report - so everybody understands why it is important not to damage the routes of trees

This is presumably so as not to hinder these trees from reaching their destination?
Quote:quote:background research 2000

Did your hand slip here or are you serious?
As a digger I never saw a brief & spec or WSI but at the time didnt consider it a major factor, mainly because i would ask the boss why the hell i was there.

As a PO I make damn sure I see a brief, check SMR etc, in advance for any job i do, no matter how small. However i still dont think its essential for every digger to see the standard brief, most of which is cut and pasted from the last one.

However the PO/supervisor has to give a full verbal intro to the site on the first day and to any new staff member. Perhaps a good way to go would be to have a one or two page summary (in nice big bold type) and any relevant maps/illustrations giving the neccessary details/background to the site issued on day one for everyone to read before digging starts. And then put up in the tea hut on laminated sheets - just like h&s regs etc.

And i agree on some earlier comments - tea break is my time for reading the Grauniad - not catching up on what someone else should have either told me or allowed me time to do in advance. How many other newbie PO's or supervisors have been shoved onto a site with no warning and no time to prepare?

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