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Archaeological Developer Reports!
A lot of this problem derives from inadequate briefing of the often rather inexperienced staff that write the reports, and inadequate technical review/editing of the reports before issue. There are a number of questions that can be asked in briefing report-writers and in reviewing the work, and I would ask them in this order:

1. does the report clearly identify the reasons for and aims and objectives of the work at the outset?
2. does the content of the report address those aims and objectives effectively?
3. does the content of the report appear to be a fair reflection of the work carried out in the field (methods and results)?
4. does the report meet the requirements of the Specification or equivalent?
5. is the report clearly and logically structured in a way appropriate to the scale of the project and the significance/ complexity of its results?
6. is the report written in clear, good quality English?

All of those questions are important, but I have placed them in order of priority.

If I were reviewing an in-house report, there would be a number of other QA and house-style related questions.

Of course, it is not just a question for briefers/reviewers. If authors themselves carefully thought out their approach to a particular report in the light of a list of questions like that before starting to write, their products would be more likely to pass muster first time round.


to let, fully furnished
However, there was a terrible problem with what was called 'backlog'

Sadly this has not changed all that much and deposition of the archive often comes 5-10 years after the excavation (I'm not talking about small watching briefs here, where deposition is pretty quick in my experience), whether or not the report has appeared in the public domain. Terribly frustrating for curators and the public who are looking for displays which can really tell us something about the archaeology of the area. I'm not exclusively blaming the Units, many of whom are doing an excellent job with limited resources. Clearly though there is often a problem with getting major sites published and transferred to a museum - the latter often being short of staff and storage as well.

One aspect of developer reports i've noticed that tends to be poorly written is the ackowledgement section; over the years i've seen it is often down to the individual author as to whether the site crew is even mentioned having been on that particular project! and even when mentioned there is no attempt to say who did what or made discovery of occupation that the PO on site missed-for example on a BA/IA site i was on mid 90s i pushed the date range back to the neo,report says,yeah i was on that site and credit goes to PO,similarly an eval 5/6 years ago PO told me to record an empty trench-i find several phases of meso hut circles but the report is written to imply the PO discovered them.
I find it outrageous that in the 21st century field archaeologists are not allowed to be credited with their contributions to archaeology simply because they are not of managerial rank! its almost Duckensian in attitude.
My other major gripes is on site drawings which go into reports,i take great pride in doing a first class job in planning (the more complex the better) and have noticed that a "just a few lines here and there will do" attitude is to prevalent,and that the plan can be tarted up in post ex and have often been moaned at for doing too good a job!but what really annoys me is when my plans are digitised in post ex the person who does that then gets to put their name on my work-so much for being the original artist!
Whenever i raise the issue on all the above i am usually told only developers read the reports and they don't care so why should we bother,well pardon me for saying this but that is a lie-on average 6 copies of reports are made:2 for developers,2 for the unit,1 for the curator and 1 for the SMR which then means anyone could have access to them.
Is it so difficult to acknowledge everyone's contribution to archaeology other than just the "important one's"?Sad
Sadly I think you will find that clients/ developers (especially large ones) will not even read the report - its all done for the curator - you developer wants the condition signed off. Naturallly this is a gross generalisation but in the main I think you will be disappointed if you think all your hard work is actually read by the person paying for it - they might look at the photos or read the summary.

A trowel is a thing to lust for!
Steve the main I think you will be disappointed if you think all your hard work is actually read by the person paying for it".

I would agree with the statement when its a report on a pointless evaluation or wb that found nothing other wise not in my experience.

Reports often get passed round the client office. It is an over simplification to suggest that all developers are simply not interested in archaeology. This is not to say however that they are happy to pay for archaeology.

Peter Wardle
One of the problems with not crediting diggers for their own contributions is that it can create a "why should i care about doing it right" attitude.If each and every one of us is equal in the eyes of the law regardless of what our station or title might be then surely we all deserve credit for what work we do,not to do so does not encourage people to the best they can for archaeology if the end result is only to enhance the reputation of a narrow little group at the top.
Titles don't impress me-individuals do,and how we treat each other as human beings all with the same rights and priviliges.
ypu do have to consider where to draw the line...

I'd like to thank my mother for ..... etcc......

that said, it does not take much to add a paragraph listing by name, everyone involved in a project.

Field Staff...
Post Excavation Staff
Report by
Illustrations by
thats not too much to ask... and does show a modicum of thanks for the work done by everyone.

After all... although a project may be driven by a single individual, its is produced by a number of people, all working together as a TEAM?

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."
Exactly my point,if we are all working together as part of a team then everyone needs to feel that their work is valued.
Though my definition of a team seems to be a bit different to others, if your an archaeologist then as far as i'm concerned we are all part of one huge team-we just work in different locations,but our aims are the same.Big Grin

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