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Destruction/reconstruction: preservation of archaeological and zoological research data

Abstract

Archaeology and zoology are fields in which data collection and analysis involve destruction. In this study, we examine the results of 49 interviews with archaeologists and zoologists, focusing on researchers’ discussions of internal or disciplinary norms and external factors affecting their attitudes and actions concerning preservation. We identified two categories of disciplinary practices: data collection and data management/recordkeeping as key to shaping attitudes and activities about preservation. Likewise, we found three external factors: funding, legal requirements, and the status of museums and repositories, influencing attitudes toward preservation. We found that while archaeologists and zoologists are uniquely positioned to appreciate the value of data preservation, because data collection in both disciplines involves destruction, they are sceptical about whether preservation is possible and that these attitudes are influenced by both internal and external factors.

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Acknowledgments

This research was made possible by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, LG-06-10-0140-10: Dissemination Information Packages for Information Reuse.

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Correspondence to Rebecca D. Frank.

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Frank, R.D., Yakel, E. & Faniel, I.M. Destruction/reconstruction: preservation of archaeological and zoological research data. Arch Sci 15, 141–167 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-014-9238-9

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Keywords

  • Data preservation
  • Digital preservation
  • Data reuse
  • Archaeology
  • Zoology
  • Data collection