OASIS Scotland: Six monthly report 8h December 2008

OASIS was formally adopted for implementation by ALGAO (Scotland) from the 1st April 2007. The statistics presented below represent usage in Scotland up to 3rd December 2008.

Key statistics

3 December 2008 / 13 April 2008 / 22 October 2007 / 23 April 2007
Waiting for contractor to complete / 138 (+51) / 87 (+30) / 57 (+41) / 16
Waiting for contractor to send report / 90 (+69) / 21 (+5) / 16 (+15) / 1
Contractor to complete archive section / 5 / - / - / -
Waiting for HER to validate / 25 (+8) / 17 (+6) / 11 (+7) / 4
(of which 19 are over one month old) / 114 (+67) / 47 (+28) / 19 (+19) / -
Waiting for RCAHMS to validate / 47 (+46) / 1 (-2) / 3 (-4) / 7
Signed off & complete / 233 (+123) / 110 (+59) / 51 (+46) / 5
Total / 652(+359) / 293 (+136) / 157 (+118) / 39

Increase in number of records in OASIS for Scotland since launch (based on information reported at management Board)

Status of OASIS records in Scotland

Percentage of records signed off by SMR

Number of records / Signed off / Percentage signed off
Aberdeenshire, Angus and Moray / 75 / 43 / 57.33
Aberdeen City / 32 / 20 / 62.5
Dundee / 5 / 1 / 20
Edinburgh / 98 / 0 / 0
Dumfries and Galloway / 26 / 15 / 57.69
East Dunbartonshire / 7 / 3 / 42.86
East Lothian / 83 / 49 / 59.04
Falkirk / 9 / 6 / 66.67
Fife / 16 / 6 / 37.5
Highland / 55 / 8 / 14.55
Orkney / 2 / 0
Perth and Kinross / 46 / 14 / 30.43
Scottish Borders / 20 / 10 / 50
Shetland / 7 / 0
Stirling / 11 / 2 / 18.18
Western Isles / 21 / 2 / 9.52
WoSAS / 139 / 54 / 38.85
Scotland / 652 / 233 / 35.74

Grey literature submissions

File transfers by OASIS / 6th December 2008 / 21 April 2008 / 22 October 2007
Reports not yet registered / 193 / 96 / 70
Reports sent by other means / 156 / 54 / 49
Reports attached to OASIS form / 307 / 151 / 57

NB: the figures provided in this table include reports working their way through the system but have not necessarily been signed-off yet.

Training and uptake

Contractor training

Training was undertaken at the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute, Orkney College in October. Nine staff, from the College, Orkney College Geophysics Unit, and ORCA (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology) attended.

A number of archaeological contractors still require formal training in OASIS.

Although one of the first units to be trained, GUARD have only just started using OASIS and would benefit from additional training, particularly with regard to attaching grey literature. Glasgow University Archaeology Department has indicated verbally that OASIS will be adopted for university research projects in Scotland.

SMR training

Training was provided to the Falkirk Council archaeologist in June 2008 and to the Orkney Islands archaeologist in October 2008. The new Scottish Borders Council archaeologist was also introduced to OASIS, but as he is still in the early days of his job,a more formal training session may be required in 2009. Now that East Dunbartonshire Council has entered into an agreement with Rathmell Archaeology, already performing a validation role for Dundee City, to provide archaeological advice to that council, only the City of Edinburgh Council requires training. However, the city archaeologist does ensure that a completed OASIS record is specified for work undertaken in Edinburgh. As a result there is a significant back-log of records awaiting SMR validation in the system. Discussions are ongoing with RCAHMS concerning the latter undertaking the validation role on behalf of the city council.

SMR interest in OASIS has been invigorated through complementary surveys and office visited currently being undertaken by RCAHMS database and aerial Survey staff.

SMR issues

There remains an issue about SMRs validating work commissioned by Historic Scotland and other parties Some SMRs are prepared to validate these projects whilst others are not. Through the ALGAO (Scotland) SMR technical working group, it has been suggested that staff from the Historic Scotland Inspectorate are trained in the use of OASIS and that work undertaken on Properties in Care are also systematically reported through the application.

The ALGAO (Scotland) forum have requested that projects undertaken by volunteer groups through the Scotland’s Rural Past Project are not being reported through OASIS. This has been taken up with the project staff.

Discovery and Excavation summary reports

In Autumn 2007 the OASIS (Scotland) form was amended to enable contractors to submit their Discovery and Excavation in Scotland entries online alongside initiating the OASIS record, This has been welcomed by some of the major units as it both reduces the amount of duplication and acts as a prompt in initiating an OASIS record.

2007-08 has been the first full year of using the online reporting of DES entries to help compile the text for Discovery and Excavation. Uptake has been moderately successful with some contributors commencing their OASIS record much earlier in the process than hitherto seen.

Status of records with DES text in the OASIS system (since launch)

Status of records / Number of records
DES text completed by Contractor / 3
DES text created by Contractor / 6
DES text finalized / 94
DES text checked by DES (not finalised) / 1

User issues

One Unit, Headland Archaeology, has raised a number of issues about both OASIS and, the DES element. These are reported below.

1.  They have found it quite difficult to administer our DES entries this year, mostly because on the table of entries the company project code field is not displayed.

Comment: The Contracting Project code can be stored within the Project Details section of the OASIS form. However due to the multiple values (and labels) stored within this section of the form it is currently not possible to present this value within the list of Projects.
The (unit) project code could be stored at the start of the DES text bo- simply put the site name and the project code as a header. It is not ideal as you then have to go into the DES text to see it but does mean it is visible and DES have no problem with it sitting at the top of the entry.

2. It would be useful to have a report option that would allow you to pull out all those entries that have or did not have DES text. Other filters would probably be handy to get an idea of how near completion projects are

Solution: Possibly add a DES text option to the Search Projects status drop down list enabling a search on which records have or have not a DES text added.

3. It would be useful if you could disable the Enter DES text button - so that when someone is doing a project that does not require a DES entry they could turn it off and no one else need worry about it and double entries could be prevented
Comment: At present the DES button is there and it is simply up to the user to choose to add text or not. So if the user is adding information about a project that does not require a DES text, they simply ignore the button.
The DES editor suggests that you simply enter ' No DES entry required / will be submitted for this project' then press the DES entry complete button. She is aware that at our end this means we will get a nill return, but it easy to delete out when the report is run.
4. What will happen for projects that have several phases for instance evaluation/excavation or longer running research projects that spread over several DES years. I suppose you could use the old form for the latter stages but that doesn't seem very elegant.
CommentI agree that complex projects pose particular issues in using OASIS and any solution is not ideal. However, I think a series of staged projects - for instance distinct phases of watching briefs should be entered into OASIS separately. DES text for highly complex projects spanning several years is inevitably going to be awkward. All we can suggest is that the first year of ongoing project for DES is reported through DES OASIS entry and then revert to subsequent years straight to the DES editor seems to be the only way to go at the moment - We agree with you that this is not an elegant solution.

With specific reference to a large road project with multiple sites.

OASIS does not let you be a project in more than one parish -

Comment: This is a training issue as OASIS does allow multiple parishes

OASIS does not let you have different types of projects within one record (ie Historic Building Recording, evaluation etc)-

OASIS only allows for 250 words per record

Future Developments

RCAHMS have been successful in securing £20,000 funding from Historic Scotland for a Radiocarbon form based on, and drawing information from the OASIS application. Although a free-standing development the new development will draw 'headline' information from records held in the OASIS application through re-use of the unique OASIS ID for each project. Development commenced in Autumn 2008. A further grant application has been made to Historic Scotland to enable completion of the project, as timetabled, in Summer 2009.

Once complete, the application will not only streamline the process of funding the dating of radiocarbon samples through Historic Scotland, but ensure that radiocarbon dates can, once again, be reported through Archaeology Scotland’s Discovery and Excavation Journal. Results will also be made available through online applications such as the ADS ArchSearch catalogue.