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Open methods in archaeology: how to encourage reproducible research as the default practice

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Scientific progress famously depends on the evaluation of findings through replication. Likewise, while social sciences and humanities subjects may not always espouse this exact vision of how we build knowledge, many researchers in these fields would argue that they too can benefit from greater discursive transparency. However, as archaeology and other research areas have become more complex, especially with the use of computationally intensive methods, it has become increasingly difficult to reproduce findings and efficiently build on past research. While exact replication of results is sometimes not feasible because of limitations of time and resources, minimal standards of reproducibility are emerging as a norm of practice in contemporary computational and biological sciences. These include opening methods up for inspection by sharing and recognising code and data as a citable research objects, and in some cases including them directly and at an early stage in the peer review process. However, there remain some significant and continuing impediments to enabling such transparency in archaeology. In this session, we therefore wish to discuss our prevailing norms in archaeology, showcase some current best practice in terms of open methods, and advocate future directions for improving the reproducibility of archaeological research.


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  • Documents (7)

Documents

  • ADS 3D Viewer: an example of open 3D real-time visualization system in archaeology (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Fabrizio Galeazzi.

    In this paper I will present ADS 3D Viewer, a project designed to develop a 3D real-time system for the management and analysis of archaeological data. The main aim of this interactive application is to give users the ability to access archaeological data to ground-truth interpretations. Thanks to the ADS 3D Viewer, in fact, multiple experts will share and analyse 3D replicas of the archaeological excavation record, which can be revisited and subject to new analytical techniques over the long...

  • Compendia and Collaboration: A Case Study from Hawai`i (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Thomas Dye.

    This paper presents a case study of how open methods and practices of reproducible research facilitated collaboration in the archaeological community that led to the solution of the long-standing problem of when Polynesians colonized Hawai`i. Central to this effort was creation of a compendium from which the dating analysis could be replicated. Practical advice is offered on how to create and share a compendium using software tools familiar to archaeologists. SAA 2015 abstracts made available...

  • Encouraging Open Methods via Data Repositories (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Julian Richards.

    In order to make our research results reproducible we must first of all make our research data available, so that others can re-use them, and test our results. In turn this requires long term digital data preservation and open access to data. Data sets must also be citable via permanent digital identifiers. This paper will discuss the experience of the UK’s Archaeology Data Service in making data available for re-use, and our evidence for such re-use. It will highlight, in particular, the use of...

  • Opening the Black Box: Enabling Transparency in Scientific Computation (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT C. Michael Barton. Marco Janssen. Dawn Parker. Allen Lee. Sean Bertin.

    Reproducibility, enabled by transparency in reporting, is the gold standard for science. It is not systematically repeating scientific research, but the potential to do so that maintains high quality in research practice. Reproducibility also drives scientific advance because it enables new research to build on prior accomplishments. This ethos is especially effective because it emerged from within the scientific community. Archaeology espouses this reproducibility ethos, made all the more...

  • Reproducible research in archaeology: Basic principles and common tools (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Ben Marwick.

    Scientific progress depends on the evaluation of findings through replication. While exact replication of results is often infeasible because of limitations of time and resources, a minimal standard of reproducibility is emerging as a norm of practice in contemporary computational and biological sciences. This standard refers to authors making available the data and code used to generate the key figures and tables of their publications. In this paper I review some approaches to reproducible...

  • Scripting the spatial analysis of archaeological datasets (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Andrew Bevan.

    For some time, interpreted languages such as Python, Matlab and R have made it easy to document and run computational function calls either line-by-line or in a script. While the spatial functionality provided within these environments has long been seen as inferior to GIS packages, it has now reached considerable maturity. The open source, multi-purpose and often ‘bleeding edge’ nature of these working environments also mean that there are often considerable analytical advantages to using them...

  • Tools for Transparency and Replicability of Simulation in Archaeology (2015)
    Citation DOCUMENT Mark Madsen. Carl Lipo.

    Simulation is an increasingly central tool across many theoretical frameworks but especially in evolutionary archaeology. Simulation and numerical analysis is routinely employed in hypothesis tests and model development. Simulations, however, have a well-deserved reputation as difficult to replicate and test, and it is rare that researchers beyond the authors can build upon a previously published simulation study. To improve replicability, and to make our work accessible, we employ standard...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America