OASIS (https://oasis.ac.uk/) is a data capture form through which archaeological and heritage practitioners can provide information about their investigations to local Historic Environment Records (HERs) and respective National Heritage Bodies. As well as being an information-gathering medium, the OASIS records also allow the practitioner/contractor to upload reports for the HERs to access and for release in the Library of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS).

The current form dates back to 2004, and since its release has recorded over 30,000 projects in England and Scotland, with nearly 40,000 reports transferred into the ADS Library. Access to unpublished reports has been a major highlight of the old system, with the ADS ensuring long-term preservation, and also enabling sustainable citation via the creation of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs).

Although a major success, the time is now right for the system to be rebuilt to accommodate a wider range of workflows, facilitate efficient public access to reports, and link digital and physical resources together. The redevelopment of the form is a key part of Historic England’s Heritage Information Access Strategy (HIAS), with additional funding from Historic Environment Scotland for incorporating reporting to Discovery and Excavation Scotland.

The OASIS form is open to all types of project, including building recording, geophysical surveys and large-scale infrastructure projects. The new version focuses on the addressing the following core requirements that were reported back from a survey of the discipline in an earlier phase:

  • A system built to modern technical standards and design.
  • The ability to record less information, but record it more accurately using current standards and terminologies.
  • To overcome the problems that have led to backlogs of reports in the system, and to efficiently transfer reports into the ADS Library and provide citation for unpublished reports via use of DOIs.
  • Ability to directly edit a record at all times: allowing archive, publication details and additional reports to be added at a later date.
  • To incorporate and link to the new generation of Research Frameworks.
  • The ability to use an API to create, update and export data to/from your own system.

The redevelopment project will be coming to an end in March 2020, with the public beta system being made available after that date. During the interim period, the ADS are looking to engage as much as the wider discipline as possible to make them aware of the forthcoming change, the benefits to individual sectors and to look for individuals or organisations that would like to sign up for testing the draft form over the next 12 months. As part of this effort, do look out for OASIS updates at relevant events and conferences, alternatively periodic updates on developments and enhancements are reported on the OASIS blog. If you are interested in finding out more about the project, or would like to register as a tester, please email [email protected].