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when was the last time you read an archaeological report from cover to cover?
#1
I suspect that most of us never bother. It may not always be necessary but usually it is too boring. Why cant we write more interesting reports?
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#2
I would like to see easy access to them. With the advances in electronic publishing, they could be made inexpensively and with far more visual information including photographs. As it stands, many of the reports I'd like to have access to are either impossible to acquire or not there at all. Interesting would be good, published and accessible would be better.
Prime practitioner of headology, with a side order of melting glass with a stern glare.
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#3
P Prentice Wrote:I suspect that most of us never bother. It may not always be necessary but usually it is too boring. Why cant we write more interesting reports?

We can and do !!................maybe you would prefer the glossy general reader type of publication................as for reading reports from cover to cover...lots...especially if pertinent to current workload Smile
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#4
I think that where you are right Monty... when it matters I will read the most obscure. otherwise it is a skim.
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#5
I am with Monty on this, it is part of the job, though I will skip some bits ( like the original brief which is often included in the final report). I will also read examples of different types of report by different companies to try and get a feel for what's good and what is not. I suppose what you read will depend on the job you are employed to do. I suspect many diggers never get to read the reports on the sites they dig, which is a real shame.
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#6
I read reports on an almost daily basis, and to a large extent, how interesting they are depends on what was found. It's obviously much easier to write an engaging and stimulating report if the subject-matter lends itself to it, rather than about another evaluation or watching brief where nothing came up. However, it also relates to something that came up on the thread about whether archaeology is a science or not, namely the ability to use the dry 'facts and figures' of contexts and plans to tell the story of the site. Yes, in some cases people can get carried away and may speculate beyond what can be supported by the evidence, but the reports I find most readable are those where the author has at least tried to work out what the various features mean in terms of the site as a whole.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#7
Are we supposed to? Yes for articles and syntheses, but reports? Really?

I think my reading of reports tends to start with the contents page, then off to the bit that describes the phasing etc then slam dunk to the conclusions, then back into the nitty gritty context detail, nipping back and forth between the structural text, the plans/sections and the finds reports. I don't think I have ever read one from cover to cover - other than my own when I have to proof read them, at the end of which process I am generally hoping that no one will ever read one of mine from cover to cover lest they wonder what the hell I am on!!!!
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#8
P Prentice Wrote:when was the last time you read an archaeological report from cover to cover?

Yesterday.

God is in the detail.

But they are technical reports, designed for those in the industry (and academia). They are not designed to be fluffy, pretty or to go on your coffee table.

Is your point that we (rarely) produce reports 'fit' for the moron.....(ahem)...I mean the general public }Smile:face-stir:
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#9
mpoole Wrote:I would like to see easy access to them. With the advances in electronic publishing, they could be made inexpensively and with far more visual information including photographs. As it stands, many of the reports I'd like to have access to are either impossible to acquire or not there at all. Interesting would be good, published and accessible would be better.

Our company is particularly bad at this..............but we're working on it. Got a website now and soon PDF's of all our reports will be accessible from there......hopefully.
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#10
There seems to be a tendency for some units to use particularly impenetrable reporting styles, particularly the horrendous phenomenon of putting all the useful information like context descriptions in tables in an appendix somewhere at the back so you're endlessly flicking backwards and forwarsd just to understand at a basic level what was found (sadly one of our managers seems quite keen on this but I've managed to escape it so far) - this possibly explains the apparent lack of understanding by some authors of what it was they dug, since they've never been forced into writing a proper site narrative. Certainly here we do (in general) attempt to produce something readable and with only relevent detail (generally its just useful to know that ditch X was 1.2-1.8m wide, not that at segment Y it was 1.37m and at segment Z 1.43m - anyone that anal should go check the archive...). Of course some units have been trying to cut down on detail for years, the absence of levels on section illustrations has been driving me spare for years and some location plans are frankly comedic....
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