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“Not for Casual Readers:” An Evaluation of Digital Data from Virginia Archaeological Websites

Author: 
Mark Anthony Freeman
Major Professor: 
Awa Zhu
Committee Members: 
Carolyn Hank,
Suzie Allard
Date: 
August 2015

Abstract: 

Archaeological data dissemination is complicated by the need to serve disparate audiences, each of which has different data needs. This study examined the websites of 148 Virginia institutions identified as having archaeological collections or data, and used content analysis to see how they supported characteristics of scholarly publishing, open data and public outreach. Archaeologists are increasingly looking for comparative data sets for research needs, with professional ethics and a desire for public engagement encouraging data sharing. However this analysis suggests that, while there are some exemplary websites, much of the archaeological record remains publicly inaccessible. The majority of websites examined provided no reference to archaeology and, of the remainder, a third did not provide archaeological data. These websites did provide many supporting characteristics for public outreach, but concerns about preservation, data “openness,” and limited datasets remain.