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Sociotechnical Obstacles to Archaeological Data Reuse

  • Adela Sobotkova (a1)


The ease of digital data capture and the proliferation of concepts such as the “data deluge” suggest that modern researchers are drowning in datasets. Yet citations of archaeological datasets are few and far between, pointing to low rates of data reuse. This article explores the difficulties that surround data reuse in large-scale regional research, including the cost and coordination necessary to extract useful data from digitized PDF reports. The amount of correction and enhancement matches the effort needed to undertake a small field survey project and can only be circumvented with a thoughtful application of computer-assisted text analysis. Missing data in excavation report PDFs are not only intractable but also insidious due to their concealed nature, leading to poor outcomes in terms of (re)use. Consequently, the degree of data reuse in archaeology has been overestimated.

La facilidad de captura de datos digitales y la proliferación de conceptos como el “diluvio de datos” sugieren que la investigación moderna se está ahogando en conjuntos de datos. Sin embargo, las citas de conjuntos de datos arqueológicos son escasas, lo que apunta a bajas tasas de reutilización de datos arqueológicos. Este artículo explora las dificultades relacionadas con la reutilización de datos en la investigación regional a gran escala, incluyendo el costo y la coordinación necesarios para extraer datos útiles de los informes digitalizados en PDF. La cantidad de corrección y mejora que se requiere iguala el esfuerzo necesario para llevar a cabo un pequeño proyecto de prospección de campo. Esto se puede evitar solo con una aplicación bien pensada del análisis de texto asistido por ordenador. Los datos faltantes en los reportes PDF de una excavación no sólo son intratables, sino también insidiosos debido a su naturaleza oculta, lo que lleva a malos resultados en términos de (re) uso. En consecuencia, se ha sobreestimado el grado de reutilización de datos en arqueología.

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Sociotechnical Obstacles to Archaeological Data Reuse

  • Adela Sobotkova (a1)


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