Ethics, Archaeology, and Open Access

By: Eric Kansa

The issue of open access to scholarly works recently gained renewed attention following the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist charged with felony computer and intellectual property crimes involving the mass download of articles from JSTOR. ASOR uses JSTOR as a repository for the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) and Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA)*.

Eric Kansa, a member of ASOR and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) wrote the following opinion piece regarding the implications of Swartz’s death for scholarly communications in archaeology. The following reposts Eric’s discussion and a response from Fred Limp, President of the SAA. Both were originally posted here:
http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=891 and here: http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=899

Eric directs Open Context, an open data publication service for archaeology. He originally discussed open access issues in NEA (2007) with his colleagues Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Jason Schultz. He also co-edited (with Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Ethan Watrall) Archaeology 2.0, an open access book about new modes of scholarly communication published with the Cotsen Institute Press (UCLA). His most recent contributions exploring open access in archaeology are published in a special of World Archaeology (2012) edited by Mark Lake, and in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies (in press). Continue reading

ASOR Campaign Announced

The “Building a Foundation for ASOR Campaign” has been one of ASOR’s worst kept secrets over the past twelve months. This $1.3 million brief yet vital initiative need not be a “secret” any longer. We are pleased to report that ASOR has passed the halfway mark of our campaign goal, and this milestone was announced by ASOR President Tim Harrison at the Thursday night reception at the Oriental Institute during the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The campaign was officially launched with a unanimous vote by the ASOR board at the 2011 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The primary goals of the first phase of the campaign were to expand ASOR’s donor base, while concurrently seeking to reach the halfway mark of $650,000 in gifts and pledges by the 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago. We are pleased therefore to be able to announce that the campaign has met and exceeded both of these goals! We set a new record last year with 282 different donor—equivalent to almost 1 in 5 ASOR members—who made a charitable contribution, and we have received $670,000 in gifts and pledges toward the campaign! Moreover, by the time the Annual Meeting had ended in Chicago, we were above $700,000. With the public announcement of the campaign, we have now set our sights on meeting the $1.3 million goal by June 30, 2014 (the end of Fiscal Year 2014). Any gifts made to ASOR for the annual fund, scholarships, or any other program or area, will count towards our campaign goal. The following is a summary of the case statement for the Foundational Campaign. Continue reading

Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives 3-year NEH Funding

Aaron A. Burke and Martin Peilstöcker, the directors of The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, are pleased to announce the receipt of a 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant for excavations in Jaffa from 2013 to 2015.

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burke)

The project is titled “Insurgency, Resistance, and Interaction: Archaeological Inquiry into New Kingdom Egyptian Rule in Jaffa.”

Since 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project has brought to light the results of earlier excavations from 1955 to 1974 in Jaffa (Tel Yafo) by Jacob Kaplan, the municipal archaeologist of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide a baseline for renewed archaeological exploration of Jaffa in which modern data collection methods and analytical techniques are employed to improve our understanding of the site and its population.

Continue reading

ASOR Funding for Regional Lectures

Exciting New Funding Opportunity from ASOR

The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) has recently decided to allocate funds in support of members who are organizing lectures and events throughout the year. The decision is prompted by an interest in increasing ASOR presence in events throughout the year and in promoting ASOR’s mission of public outreach.

Preference will be given to proposals for special programming at the regional meetings (including co-sponsoring a regional lecture event) that enhance ASOR membership and visibility, as well as to proposals for lectures/events beyond the regional meetings that promise to attract an audience of potential new ASOR members. Continue reading

NSF Points to Open Context for Publishing Project Data

The National Science Foundation’s Archaeology Program links to Open Context (http://opencontext.org) as an option for grant seekers to archive and disseminate archaeological research data. See here for an example. The NSF also links to Digital Antiquity’s tDAR (http://tdar.org) project, a related effort with greater emphasis on North American archaeology.

Earlier this year, the NSF announced new data sharing requirements for grantees. Grant-seekers now need to supply a plan for providing wide access and long-term preservation of data and documents created as part of NSF-funded research.

This new requirement has the potential for improving transparency in research and also opens the door to new research directions that integrate results from multiple projects. It also demonstrates how data sharing is becoming an expected outcome of the research process. This is something that many other fields have been practicing for a few years now, but archaeology and other “small-team sciences” are a few steps behind (largely because the small-scale, localized nature of archaeological data production makes it hard to come up with common solutions for sharing and archiving these data).

The downside of this development is that grant seekers have additional work in creating a data access and management plan. Many grant seekers will probably lack expertise and technical support in making data accessible.

At the upcoming ASOR meeting in Atlanta, the creators of Open Context are offering a workshop called “Publishing Archaeological Data from the Field to the Web.” This workshop will address the new NSF requirements and discuss how to prepare datasets for dissemination and archiving. It will also discuss related data sharing initiatives relevant to Near Eastern archaeology.

All ASOR meeting attendees are welcome to attend this workshop, which will take place on Thursday November 18 at 2pm.

For more information, contact Sarah Witcher Kansa.