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GIS Guide to Good Practice
Section 5: Documenting your GIS Data set

5.1 Why document your data?

Working with your Geographic Information System on a regular basis as you do, you probably have a pretty good idea about what it contains, the area of the country it covers, and what its major strengths and weaknesses are likely to be. You know, for example, that your data cover the city of York, that period information is only stored to the nearest century, and that the aerial photographic interpretation to the south–west of the city is a bit dubious.

5.1.1 Documentation for others

Data offered to the ADS, however, may potentially be used by researchers from many different parts of the planet, and with widely varied levels of expertise. They have no way of knowing anything at all about your data unless you tell them.

In order to make sure that the maximum amount of information is delivered to the user whilst involving you, the depositor, in minimal effort, the Archaeology Data Service has developed a number of procedures to standardise and simplify the documentation process.

5.1.2 Documentation for you

Some form of record about your data — and about what you've done to it — is also, of course, undoubtedly useful within your own organisation. Even using data every day, it is still possible to forget about where some of it came from, or how the data you currently used were originally compiled from various sources.

This guide introduces the issues relevant to both types of documentation, as well as discussing the detail relevant to one or the other.


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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.

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Arts and Humanities Data Service
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