A session on paradata at CAA 2020 in Oxford

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Sun, 09/15/2019 - 01:49

Good news for everyone interested in paradata! At the forthcoming Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2020 conference in Oxford  held April 14-17, 2020, there will be a dedicated roundtable session on the topic. Detailed instructions for submissions and the official CAA call for papers will be coming out soon but as a sort of a teaser, a brief description of the session can be found below.

Paradata to the people! Documenting documentation and more

A key obstacle to using and understanding archaeological legacy data is seldom the lack of general information about the data, but that there is not enough contextual knowledge of its origins and earlier use (e.g. Faniel et al., 2018; Kim & Yoon, 2017; Voss, 2012). A lack of proper understanding of how data, models, visualisations and other carriers of archaeological knowledge make it difficult or impossible to interpret them properly. The issue is accentuated in the contemporary digital contexts where documentation needs to be more explicit than ever to ensure that the traces of its making and use become and remain visible and are preserved.

The data that documents the processes relating to data and information in different forms is conventionally refered to as paradata in the literature (e.g. Bentkowska-Kafel et al., 2012; Gant & Reilly, 2017; Huvila, 2017). Even if its importance has been acknowledged already a long time and especially in field archaeology, the documentation of not only observations but the documentation processes is a common practice and requirement, the systematic capturing, understanding and use of paradata is still at its infancy.

This roundtable session hosted by the CApturing Paradata for documenTing data creation and Use for the REsearch of the future (CAPTURE) project (www.uu.se/en/research/capture) invites short lightning talks describing evidence-based and theoretical work, positions statements and perspectives relating to archaeological paradata i.e. data about processes of, for instance, creating, using, manipulating and managing archaeological data and information in different forms (e.g. digital measurement and observation data, spatial data, visualisations, texts physical collections and features). This can include data about the making of 3D visualisations or digital or non-digital paradata about the provenance of digital or non-digital field observations. The contributions should focus on identifying theoretical and practical opportunities, challenges and gaps in how paradata is understood at the moment, how these issues should be solved and what aspects require more research.


Bentkowska-Kafel, A., Denard, H., & Baker, D. (Eds.) (2012). Paradata and transparency in virtual heritage. Farnham: Ashgate.

Faniel, I. M., Austin, A., Kansa, E., Kansa, S. W., France, P., Jacobs, J., Boytner, R., & Yakel, E. (2018). Beyond the archive: Bridging data creation and reuse in archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 6(2), 105–116.

Gant, S., & Reilly, P. (2017). Different expressions of the same mode: a recent dialogue between archaeological and contemporary drawing practices. Journal of Visual Art Practice, (pp. 1–21).

Huvila, I. (2017). The subtle difference between knowledge and 3d knowledge. Hamburger Journal für Kulturanthropologie, 7(1), 99–111.

Kim, Y., & Yoon, A. (2017). Scientists’ data reuse behaviors: A multilevel analysis. JASIST, 68(12), 2709–2719.

Voss, J. (2012). Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web. In Proceedings of the Museums and the Web 2012, April 11-14, San Diego.

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