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Oasis database
I have noticed a few threads elsewhere commenting on the Oasis database and the grey literature from commercial archaeology that it is accumulating for public domain


I was just wondering what opinions people had about this service. Personally i think the database form is too detailed (you need quite a lot of information to hand to fill it in) but on the whole i think its a great idea. My only concern is that out of the many people that will find the reports informative for their own pleasure and/or research there will be the few that will use the information for personal gain (i.e night hawks). There is no way of policing who is viewing the material and to what end. If i had sites that i felt were in danger of being damaged i would be reluctant to provide information about them on the internet. Obvuiously the information can still be obtained from the SMR's but this requires slightly more effort than clicking a button on a mouse!
I understand your concerns but I believe strongly that this material must be available to the public. Thats why we do what we do after all and the time will come when archaeology needs to justify its role in the planning process, and the more people we provide our data to, the more friends we will have. Serious researchers will attend the SMR, but only if they know that the work has been done. Students and casual researchers often do not have the time or knowledge to use the SMRs. And having the information on-line makes it much easier to browse for useful comparative data, etc.

I was interested to read on another thread that some curators specify OASIS as part of the brief. I have never come across this, and consequently have never had to fill one in. I also have read that some people fill them in for their projects in their own time as a result. Hopefully that situation will change and it will become part of every project countrywide.
In my experience, and trust me when i say I have had to fill in dozens of the wretched things, when an entry to Oasis is completed it then has to be approved by the relevant SMR/HER before it is added to the publically searchable greylit database hosted by ADS. In other words the HER officer has access to a list of all the work ongoing in his/her region and has the final say in approving the data for public consumption, and can edit where necessary.

Although the idea is to attach a full site report with the entry this can also be left out, meaning that a searcher can find the basic info they want before approaching the SMR/HER direct.

In principle I think the scheme is a worthwhile one - electronic publication available to anyone who's interested with access to a PC simply has to be an advance over the situation where most fieldwork ends up as 6 paper copies which never see the light of day. If nothing else its quite a handy tool to see what everybody in my unit is doing, let alone anywhere else. However i do agree with flashdigger in that the actual oasis form itself is a pain, not necessarily too detailed but in places badly structured.

Have to agree there... we in Scotland are using the new ASPIRE protocol... but will soon merge with OASIS as well... the over complication and number of buttons to be pressed and forms filled in do add to cost... and also put off other archaeology users.... simplification to relevant data would mean a more accessible record... though of course... knowing what to keep and what to ditch.... thres the question. The one thing I want to add... is the point that access to 'grey' lit, does mean that they should be well written and accessible... something that many of the reports can fall down on.... with the excuse that... hey... nobody will ever read them again. .... well now 'they' can!

Another day another WSI?

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