Providing Information and Public Outreach Across Three U.S. State Archaeology Offices During the Age of Open Access | Samuel Thomas Ayers | Louisiana State University thesis
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A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in The Department of Geography & Anthropology.
"Abstract: Archaeology in the United States has been transformed into a mainstream, practical science over the past fifty years by Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and the federal regulations imposed by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. However, this form of archaeology has been plagued with criticisms since the NHPA’s enactment including issues of access and use of data maintained by state site files. State archaeology is publicly funded yet state and federal legislation often exempts CRM data from freedom of information laws. To mitigate this contradiction and stem the growing body of “gray literature”, new open- access (OA) technologies are being developed to connect the general and academic publics with archaeological research. This thesis explores to what extent a consensus exists between state outreach and access features and how the implemented polices could be adapted with recent developments in OA information systems.
Understanding these questions requires information directly from state archaeologists. As such, seven interviews were conducted with personnel from three state archaeology departments across the country. To establish a survey of state policy offerings, these professionals were asked a series of questions as they related to their state’s implementation of data access and public outreach outlets. Furthermore, each interviewee provided comments on their state’s investment in OA development. Over sixty pages of transcripts revealed a consensus on the concepts of data access and public outreach. This agreement was checked by considerable variation in state policy offerings. A grounded theory analysis was applied to the transcripts to uncover why this variation in policy existed. Initially it appeared that underfunding of programs was the primary factor. However, a comprehensive assessment though revealed that concerns with data security led states to implement strict yet largely unstandardized data access and public outreach policies.
As such, I put forth that state archaeology departments across the nation look to implement Open-Access data management systems like the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINNA). Implementing such systems will provide a new platform for efficient researching and help in the fight against the growing body of gray literature. What is more, systems like DINAA will act as a clearinghouse of linked comprehensive data sets for state archaeologists, academic, and CRM researchers to utilize for broad geographic analyses needed to understand the threats posed to archaeological sites nationwide."