Reproducibility in the Field: Transparency, Version Control and Collaboration on the Project Panormos Survey

Néhémie Strupler 1  and Toby C. Wilkinson 2
  • 1 Archéologie et histoire ancienne: Méditerranée-Europe, ARCHIMÈDE (UMR 7044), Université de Strasbourg and Institut für Altorientalische Philologie und Vorderasiatische Altertumskunde, Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster, , Münster, Germany
  • 2 Churchill College/McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, , Cambridge, UK


Archaeological fieldwork is rarely considered reproducible in the sense of the ideal scientific method because of its destructive nature. But new digital technology now offers field practitioners a set of tools that can at least increase the transparency of the data-collection process as well as bring other benefits of an Open Science approach to archaeology. This article shares our perspectives, choices and experiences of piloting a set of tools (namely: ODK, Git, GitLab CE and R) which can address reproducibility of fieldwork in the form of an intensive survey project in western Turkey, and highlights the potential consequences of Open Science approaches for archaeology as a whole.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Alcock, S., & Cherry, J. (Eds.). (2004). Side-by-side Survey: Comparative Regional Studies in the Mediterranean World. Oxford: Oxbow.

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2016). Ancient History, Modern Destruction: Assessing the Status of Syria’s Tentative World Heritage Sites Using High-Resolution Satellite Imagery. (May 18, 2017).

  • Anokwa, Y., Hartung, C., Brunette, W., Lerer, A., & Borriello, G. (2009). Open Source Data Collection in the Developing World. IEEE Computer, 97-99.

  • Bartling, S., & Friesike, S. (Eds.). (2014). Opening Science. The Evolving Guide on How the Internet is Changing Research, Collaboration and Scholarly Publishing. Springer.

  • Bazerman, C. (1983). Scientific Writing as a Social Act: A Review of the Literature of the Sociology of Science. In Paul V. Anderson R. John Brockmann & C. R. Miller (Eds.), New essays in technical and scientific communication: Research, theory, practice (pp. 156-184). Amityville: Baywood.

  • Bevan, A. (2012). Value, Authority and the Open Society. Some Implications for Digital and Online Archaeology. In C. Bonacchi (Ed.), Archaeology and digital communication: Towards strategies of public engagement (pp. 1-14). London: Archetype.

  • Bevan, A. (2015). The data deluge. Antiquity, 89, 1473-1484.

  • Bissell, M. (2013). Reproducibility: the Risks of the Replication Drive. Nature, 593, 333-334.

  • Bowers, J. (2011). Six steps to a Better Relationship with Your Future Self. The Political Methodologist, 18(2), 2-8.

  • Chacon, S., & Straub, B. (2014). Pro Git. (May 18, 2017).

  • Costa, S., Beck, A., Bevan, A., & Ogden, J. (2013). Defining and advocating open data in archaeology. In G. Earl, T. Sly, A. Chrysanthi, P. Murrieta-Flores, C. Papadopoulos, I. Romanowska, & D. Wheatley (Eds.), Archaeology in the Digital Era. Papers from the 40th Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA), Southampton, 26-29 March 2012 (pp. 449-456).

  • Creative Commons (2013). Responses of Creative Commons to House of Lords Comments Concerning the CC BY License. (May 18, 2017).

  • Düring, B., & Glatz, C. (Eds.). (2016). Kinetic Landscapes. The Cide Archaeological Project: Surveying the Turkish Western Black Sea Region. Warsaw/Berlin: De Gruyter Open.

  • Ellis, S. J. (2016). Are We Ready for New (Digital) Ways to Record Archaeological Fieldwork? A Case Study from Pompeii. In E. W. Averett, J. M. Gordon, & D. B. Counts (Eds.), Mobilizing the past for a digital future: The potential of digital archaeology (pp. 51-75). Grand Forks: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

  • Ersoy, Y., & Koparal, E. (2008). Urla ve Seferihisar İlçeleri Yüzey Araştırması 2007 Yılı çalışmaları. Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı, 26(3), 73-9.

  • Ersoy, Y., Tuna, N., & Koparal, E. (2010). Urla ve Seferihisar İlçeleri Yüzey Araştırması 2009 Yılı Çalışmaları. Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı, 28(2), 339-360.

  • EU. (2016). H2020 Programme - Annotated Model Grant Agreement (Version 2.1.1). (May 18, 2017).

  • Fanelli, D. (2013). Redefine misconduct as distorted reporting. Nature, 494, 149.

  • Fitzpatrick, K. (2011). Planned obsolescence: Publishing, technology, and the future of the academy. New York: New York University.

  • Germán, D. M., Adams, B., & Hassan, A. E. (2016). Continuously mining distributed version control systems: An empirical study of how linux uses git. Empirical Software Engineering, 21(1), 260-299.

  • Gewin, V. (2013). Turning Point: Carl Boettiger. Nature, 493, 711.

  • Götz, N., & Marklund, C. (2014). The Paradox of Openness: Transparency and Participation in Nordic Cultures of Consensus. Leiden: Brill.

  • Harley, D., Acord, S. K., Earl-Novell, S., Lawrence, S., & King, C. J. (2010). Archaeology Case Study. In Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines. (pp. 29-136). UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.

  • HEFCE. (2015). Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework: Updated July 2015. Higher Education Funding Council for England. (May 18, 2017).

  • Heller, L., The, R., & Bartling, S. (2014). Dynamic Publication Formats and Collaborative Authoring. In S. Bartling & S. Friesike (Eds.), Opening science (pp. 191-211). Springer International Publishing.

  • Hodder, I. (1999). The Archaeological Process: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Hodder, I. (2008). Evaluating Multiple Narratives: Beyond Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist Archaeologies. In J. Habu, C. Fawcett, & J. M. Matsunaga (Eds.), Evaluating multiple narratives: Beyond nationalist, colonialist, imperialist archaeologies (pp. 196-200). New York: Springer New York.

  • Huggett, J. (2015). Digital Haystacks: Open Data and the Transformation of Archaeological Knowledge. In A. T. Wilson and B. Edwards (Ed.), Open source archaeology (pp. 6-29). Warsaw/Berlin: De Gruyter Open.

  • Ihaka, R., & Gentleman, R. (1996). R: A Language for Data Analysis and Graphics. Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics, 5(3), 299-314.

  • Journal of Open Archaeology Data. (2017). Research integrity. (May 25, 2017).

  • Kansa, E. (2012). Openness and archaeology’s information ecosystem. World Archaeology, 44(4), 498-520.

  • Kansa, E. (2014). The Need to Humanize Open Science. In S. A. Moore (Ed.), Issues in open research data (pp. 31-58). London: Ubiquity Press.

  • Kansa, E., & Whitcher Kansa, S. (2013). We All Know That a 14 Is a Sheep: Data Publication and Professionalism in Archaeological Communication. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, 1(1), 88-97.

  • Kansa, E., Whitcher Kansa, S., & Arbuckle, B. (2014). Publishing and Pushing: Mixing Models for Communicating Research Data in Archaeology. International Journal of Digital Curation, 9.1, 57-70.

  • Kelty, C. M. (2005). Free Science. In J. Feller, B. Fitzgerald, S. A. Hissam, & K. R. Lakhani (Eds.), Perspectives on free and open source software (pp. 415-430). MIT Press.

  • Kelty, C. M. (2008). Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Durham: Duke University Press.

  • Kelty, C. M. (2014). Beyond Copyright and Technology: What Open Access can tell us about Precarity, Authority, Innovation, and Automation in the University Today. Cultural Anthropology, 29(2), 203-215.

  • Knorr, K. D., & Knorr, D. W. (1978). From Scenes to Scripts: On the Relationship between Laboratory Research and Published Paper in Science. Vienna: Institute for Advanced Studies.

  • Knuth, D. E. (1984). Literate Programming. The Computer Journal, 27(2), 97-111.

  • Lagoze, C., Block, W. C., Williams, J., Abowd, J., & Vilhuber, L. (2013). Data management of confidential data. International Journal of Digital Curation, 8(1), 265-278.

  • Lake, M. (2012). Open archaeology. World Archaeology, 44(4), 471-478.

  • Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1979). Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts. Beverley Hills: Sage.

  • Marwick, B. (2016). Computational Reproducibility in Archaeological Research: Basic Principles and a Case Study of Their Implementation. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 1-27.

  • Masic, I. (2012). Plagiarism in scientific publishing. Acta Informatica Medica, 20(4), 208-213.

  • Matthews, R., & Glatz, C. (Eds.). (2009). At Empires’ Edge. Project Paphlagonia Regional Survey in North-Central Turkey. London: British Institute at Ankara.

  • Morin, A., Urban, J., Adams, P. D., Foster, I., Sali, A., Baker, D., & Sliz, P. (2012). Shining Light into Black Boxes. Science, 336(6078), 159-160.

  • Nielsen, M. (2011). An informal definition of openscience. (May 18, 2017).

  • Nuzzo, R. (2015). How scientists fool themselves - and how they can stop. Nature, 526, 182-185.

  • Open Definition. (2016). Conformant license (version 2.1). (May 18, 2017).

  • R Core Team. (2017). R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. (May 18, 2017).

  • Schloen, D. (2001). Archaeological Data Models and Web Publication Using XML. Computers and the Humanities, 35(2), 123-152.

  • Schloen, D., & Schloen, S. (2014). Beyond Gutenberg: Transcending the Document Paradigm in Digital Humanities. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 8(4).

  • Smith, J. (2013). Adapting Git for simple data. (May 14, 2017).

  • Strupler, N. (2016). Archaeology as Community Enterprise. In S. Campana, R. Scopigno, G. Carpentiero, & M. Cirillo (Eds.), CAA2015 keep the revolution going, proceedings of the 43 rd annual conference on computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology (Vol. 1, pp. 1015-1018).

  • The Free Software Foundation. (2016). Various Licenses and Comments about Them. (May 18, 2017).

  • Vinck, D., & Clivaz, C. (2014). The Humanities Unbound. Knowledge and Culture Reinvented Outside the Book. Revue d’anthropologie des connaissances, 8(4), a-w.

  • Wallis, J., Rolando, E., & Borgman, C. (2013). If We Share Data, Will Anyone Use Them? Data Sharing and Reuse in the Long Tail of Science and Technology. PLoS ONE, 8(7), e67332.

  • Wallrodt, J. (2016). Why Paperless: Technology and Changes in Archaeological Practice, 1996-2016. In E. W. Averett, J. M. Gordon, & D. B. Counts (Eds.), Mobilizing the past for a digital future: The potential of digital archaeology (pp. 33-50). Grand Forks: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

  • Xie, Y. (2015). Dynamic Documents with R and knitr (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: Chapman; Hall/CRC.

  • Xie, Y. (2016). Knitr: A General-Purpose Package for Dynamic Report Generation in R (R package version 1.12).


Journal + Issues