University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Why the SWORD is mightier than the pen: automated ingest and the SWORD-ARM project.
Ray Moore, Catherine Hardman, Jen Mitcham, Michael Charno, Lei Xia, Julian Richards

Last modified: 2012-01-12


The growing dependence on digital data acquisition within traditional research environments, and increasingly within the commercial sectors, of archaeological practice has seen an associated growing awareness of the need for sustainable long-term preservation of these datasets. Whilst the preservation of such data has become more and more important, the changing economic situation has also been associated with a rise in demand for the dissemination and reuse of archaeological datasets. The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) has a mandate from numerous bodies to provide digital repository services for digital archaeological outputs from the commercial and research communities and has over fifteen years of experience in the preservation and dissemination of archaeological digital datasets. The ADS is, therefore, well positioned to develop the necessary systems which allow direct user deposition of complex datasets, but which also rationalize and automate the ingestion process and the capture of associated metadata; often regarded as the ‘holy grail’ of digital archiving. The creation of these systems will benefit researchers, within both traditional research and commercial sectors, allowing them to more easily deposit data within the digital archive.


Funded by JISC, the SWORD-ARM project will enhance the ADS’s ingest procedure by utilising a SWORD-style protocol[1] to rationalize the deposition process. The resultant semi-automated process streamlines data management, whilst at the same time allowing for more effective workflow. It also allows a more interactive experience for depositors by allowing them to manage their own files and collections, to create and validate their own metadata and to engage in the selection and retention process of their deposit. Significantly, SWORD-ARM incorporates a cost estimation tool that will allow depositors to evaluate and manage the financial outlay for specific projects and archives on a file by file basis. It is the integration of these facets which makes SWORD-ARM an important development in digital preservation within the archaeological sector. It is hoped that the outputs of this project will become embedded within a sustainable preservation infrastructure and facilitate the policy objectives of research councils and non-HE public bodies to enable project-based charging and deposit. This paper will reflect on the implications of the SWORD-ARM project to archaeology, but also the wider digital archiving community.

[1] Allinson, J., Sebastien, F., and Lewis, S. 2008. ‘SWORD: Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit’. Ariadne 54: internet (, accessed 30 November 2011).