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GIS Guide to Good Practice
Section 1: Aims and Objectives

1.1 Why a GIS Guide to Good Practice?

This document is designed specifically to provide guidance for individuals and organisations involved in the creation, maintenance, use and long-term preservation of GIS-based digital resources. It should be noted that although the overall emphasis is upon archaeological data, the information presented has much wider disciplinary implications.

As well as providing a source of useful generic information, the guide emphasises the processes of long-term preservation, archiving and effective data re-use. As a result, the importance of adhering to recognised standards and the recording of essential pieces of information about a given resource are dominant recurring themes throughout the discussions. The latter are designed to smooth the transition of the digital resource into an archive environment, in particular the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and to ensure that it can be re-located and re-used in the future.

It is important to realise that the current document is one of a family of theme-specific guides, some of which contain much more detailed discussions of many of the topics outlined here, such as the integration of satellite images, and the precise formats and convention standards used within CAD layers. Although each guide, whether concerned with GIS, CAD, geophysical survey or remote sensing, is specifically designed to be self-contained, taken together they comprise a comprehensive, authoritative and highly complementary set of practical guidelines.

In outlining the aims of the document, it is equally important to state what the current guide does not cover. It does not aim to constitute an exhaustive introduction to the underlying origin, theory and technical implementation of GIS. Nor is it in any way a definitive and prescriptive manual on how 'best' to undertake GIS. Although the importance of standards and data frameworks will be rightly emphasised, the aim of the guide is to introduce practitioners to areas and issues where standards and frameworks already exist and may be applicable, and to identify the relevant sources of information that may be consulted. Whilst optimum pathways will often be identified, the guide does not rigidly advocate any single standard or narrow set of options. Instead, the concern here is more generic, with the aim of encouraging and developing the routine use of standards and data frameworks as a whole. In this sense it is important to realise that the present document constitutes a guide as opposed to a manual.

It is also important to note that this guide is concerned solely with archaeological data and GIS, whether derived from excavation, regional survey, archival research, intra-site analysis or any other archaeological endeavour. It is not concerned with the integration, archiving and accessing of data destined for study, maintenance and future re-use within CAD systems. This topic will be covered in detail in the forthcoming CAD and Excavation and Fieldwork guides to good practice.

This Guide to Good Practice is one of five commissioned by the Archaeology Data Service. The five archaeological guides consist of a general guide to Digital Excavation and Fieldwork Archiving guide as well as four more specific guides. These are on Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing, CAD, and Archaeological Geophysics, as well as this volume on GIS.

The ADS is a part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), which caters for digital archiving needs across the humanities disciplines of archaeology, history, literary studies, performing arts, and visual arts. Each branch of the AHDS takes responsibility for advising on good practice in the creation, management, preservation, and re-use of digital information widely used in its subject area. A total of 17 guides are currently planned across the AHDS:

Service Provider Title of Guide
Archaeology Data Service Aerial Photography and satellite imagery
Digital Excavation and Fieldwork Archiving
History Data Service Digitising history: a guide to creating electronic resources from historical documents 
Secondary Analysis in Historical Research
History GIS
Oxford Text Archive Creating and documenting electronic texts
Finding and using electronic texts
Developing linguistic corpora
Performing Arts Data Service Data Creation in Performing Arts
Visual Arts Data Service Creating digital information for the Visual Arts: standards and best practice
Using Digital Information in Teaching and Learning in Art and Design
Why invest in the digitisation of visual arts material
General Humanities Guides Discovering Online Resources Across the Humanities: a practical implementation of the Dublin Core
Guide to Copyright Issues in the Humanities


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Archaeology Data Service
© Mark Gillings, Peter Halls, Gary Lock, Paul Miller, Greg Phillips, Nick Ryan, David Wheatley, and Alicia Wise 1998

The right of Mark Gillings, Peter Halls, Gary Lock, Paul Miller, Greg Phillips, Nick Ryan, David Wheatley, and Alicia Wise to be identified as the Authors of this Work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All material supplied via the Arts and Humanities Data Service is protected by copyright, and duplication or sale of all or part of any of it is not permitted, except that material may be duplicated by you for your personal research use or educational purposes in electronic or print form. Permission for any other use must be obtained from the Arts and Humanities Data Service(info@ahds.ac.uk).

Electronic or print copies may not be offered, whether for sale or otherwise, to any third party.

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