There is an increasing interest of archaeologists in the management of FAIR data, i.e. data that conform to the FAIR principles of being Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reuseable. The ARIADNEplus project is committed to developing and sharing expertise and tools for the application of the FAIR data principles in the field of archaeology. The project also raises the awareness of the importance of FAIR data management, and the demand for guidance and tools is indeed growing.

The recent ARIADNEplus workshop “Data Management Tools for Archaeologists – How can the European ARIADNEplus project help you?”, organised by partner Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS, Netherlands) on the 29th March, was attended by 89 participants. A similar workshop organised by DANS two years ago had 42 participants.

Presentation and testing of the tools

In the workshop, the participants could learn about and try out the ARIADNEplus Data Management Plan Tool which assists archaeologists in creating a Data Management Plan (DMP), which an ever-growing number of research funders, universities and research centres require for proper data archiving and sharing for reuse.

The workshop was chaired by Ellen Leenarts (Research Data Management Specialist, DANS), and Hella Hollander (Manager Data Station Archaeology, DANS) introduced the participants to the ARIADNEplus project and the workshop theme. The presentations that followed described the tools and guidance available in the ARIADNEplus online toolbox.

Peter Doorn (Senior Researcher, DANS) presented the Protocol for Archaeological Data Management. This protocol stems from the initiative of Science Europe for domain-specific DMP protocols, that was progressed under the chairmanship of Doorn. Science Europe is an association of major public research funders and research organisations in Europe.

The protocol corresponds to the requirements and evaluation criteria of Science Europe for a DMP and is based on the principle of “comply or explain”. This makes it easier for archaeologists to create a standard DMP by complying to standard criteria or giving further details where necessary, for which the tool links to sections of the Guide for Archaeological Data Management Planning. This guidance can also be consulted for questions of the two more detailed DMP templates addressed next.

Paola Ronzino (Senior Researcher, Project Manager of ARIADNEplus, PIN Vast-Lab, Italy) presented the ARIADNEplus DMP Researcher Template for Archaeological Datasets and the Horizon Europe Template for Archaeological Datasets.

The DMP Researcher Template for Archaeological Datasets was initially derived from the part for researchers of the PARTHENOS FAIRify Guide (see below), reworked and detailed for datasets of archaeological projects, taking account also of requirements of the European Horizon 2020 Programme.

The template is tailored to community needs, assisting the creation of a domain DMP for datasets that are FAIR by making the researcher aware of appropriate metadata, vocabularies and other standards, and support possibly needed for legal, ethical and other matters. The Horizon Europe Template for Archaeological Datasets builds on the former template with some adaptations for researchers funded under the new Horizon Europe Programme.

In the workshop, the participants could try out the tools and give feedback on their functionality and usability. Two breakout groups did so for the Protocol for Archaeological Data Management and the Horizon Europe Template for Archaeological Datasets. The feedback was collected in an online document and questions of the participants answered. They were also invited to use the tools for certain datasets in mind and come back to the presenters with further comments and suggestions.

With the ARIADNEplus tools, archaeologists can create useful FAIR data management plans, not simply to fulfil the request of research funders, but for the benefit of their projects. It is hoped that the growing interest in FAIRified data also leads to high use of the tools.

A note on the PARTHENOS FAIRify guide

Regarding the interest in FAIR data it is worth noting that the ARIADNE initiative for some time has promoted the PARTHENOS Guidelines to FAIRify data management. PARTHENOS was an EU-funded project (until October 2019) of social sciences and humanities (SSH) research infrastructures, in which ARIADNE members had leading roles.

The FAIRify guide offers twenty guidelines to align the efforts of SSH research data producers and archivists in making the data FAIR, providing for each guideline recommendations for both researchers and archivists. The ARIADNEplus guidance and tools are mainly intended for researchers and tailored for archaeologists.

However, the downloads of the PARTHENOS guide from the Zenodo repository illustrate the growing interest in FAIRified data. The guide was first published in December 2018 in English, followed in 2019 and 2020 by versions in eight other languages provided by PARTHENOS and ARIADNEplus partners. At present there have been 3,189 unique downloads, with an increase of 29.5% in the last 10 months.

Author: Guntram Geser, Salzburg Research Institute, Austria.