Archaeology in the Open: An Interview with Lisa Lodwick

We invited Lisa Lodwick from our Department of Archaeology to tell us about her work in Open Research.

Hello, please introduce yourself

Hi, I’m Dr Lisa Lodwick, a post-doctoral research assistant in the Department of Archaeology, SAGES (ORCID

Tell me about your research

My research focuses on the relationship between agricultural and urbanisation in later prehistoric and Roman Europe.

At Reading, I have been working on the Rural Settlement of Roman Britain project, a Leverhulme Trust project which aimed to collate published and unpublished archaeological reports to create a new account of rural Roman Britain. The project produced a database, hosted by the Archaeology Data Service, making data openly available from a wide range of archaeological excavations.

Within this project, I focused on collating archaeobotanical evidence – plant macrofossils from archaeological sites. I collated a large quantity of secondary data, which is generally very hard to access (microfiches, archive reports, PDFs, monographs), and very little is available as licensed data files.

What does Open Research mean to you?

Open Research means to me a broad range of practices, including open data, open methods and open access publication.

I am trying to make my research open because I believe everyone should have access to research. This means making sure I archive my postprints, and that my underlying data is published and archived. I use social media to disseminate and occasionally blog about my research. The majority of archaeologists working in the same area as me do so within the commercial and public sectors, beyond the paywall (without subscriptions), so if they can’t access my research, it will have a very limited impact on moving the discipline forward.

You are Editor-in-Chief of the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal (TRAJ), which is being launched this year with the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) as a full Open Access journal. Can you tell me about this journal and what prompted the decision to go fully Open Access with OLH?

The Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC) is a long-running event, founded in 1991, aiming to widen the ranges of voices heard, and perspectives offered, in Roman archaeology. The annual TRAC Proceedings have been published almost every year since 1993. The book-based publication limited the dissemination of papers, and made them less accessible.

In 2013, the Proceedings publisher Oxbow agreed to post individual papers from the Proceedings online after a 3-year embargo. While this was a great step forward, because papers are not indexed, they are still hard to find – for instance, they don’t appear on Google Scholar. This is fairly typical of academic publishing in Roman archaeology, which has a very fragmented publications landscape, with long publication lead times and a large amount of material unavailable or difficult to access online.

Our new open access journal, the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal (TRAJ), will publish papers from the annual TRAC conference and other events, as well as open submissions. It will continue the TRAC Proceedings tradition of publishing innovative and interdisciplinary research, and engaging with current theory and practice in Roman Archaeology.

The new format will address some of the challenges associated with the Proceedings. Working with the Open Library of Humanities allows us to publish a high-quality open access journal with no author-facing publication charges, as OLH covers its costs by payments from an international library consortium, of which the University is a member.

Because the journal content will all be openly available and indexed, we can ensure it is easily discoverable and accessible, thus increasing exposure for research in the field and creating opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue.

How will TRAJ support Open Research?

Every article published in TRAJ will be open access from day one of publication. TRAJ will be published in XML format, meaning articles will be easy to read on a range of devices. The journal will have a range of features to encourage sharing and engagement with research, such as article annotation, easy-to-share social media buttons, and article-level metrics.

Authors publishing in TRAJ will be able to choose from a range of Creative Commons licenses, enabling easy re-use of material. We will support sharing of supplementary data files and plan to develop a policy encouraging authors to make their data accessible wherever possible by deposit in a suitable data repository.

I understand you use Twitter to talk about your research. Do you think social media have an important role to play in research today?

Yes, definitely in terms of disseminating research results, engaging a broad range of interest groups in the research process, networking with other researchers, and staying up to date with publications and events in your field. I have been using Twitter since 2011 (@LisaLodwick), mainly to talk about my PhD and post-doctoral research. TRAC also has a twitter account (@TRAC_Conference), which we use to promote events and publications, and we encourage the use of Twitter during the annual conference.

What would you say to a researcher who wanted to develop their social media profile or use social media in their research, but didn’t know where to start?

Just get started and it becomes easier over time. There are loads of resources available to provide advice, such as the LSE Impact Blog.

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