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The University of Sydney

Data collection during fieldwork is - irrespective of discipline - the capture of primary raw data which provides the basis for future research work. In many cases this data gathered may be unique. There is a need for fieldwork tools and services that enables researchers to easily capture this data (be it images, sound, video) in forms that provide the best quality with appropriate descriptive and technical metadata to ensure the data is correct, accurate, and useful as future reference and archive.

The purpose of this project was to further develop the FieldHelper tool that was conceptualised and built in 2006 to be integrated - through parts of the APSR RIFF framework – into the repository process to ensure that the data is collected, submitted and stored in forms that ensure its continued accessibility, utility and meaning.

An important part of this project was to develop and test a fieldwork profile within the NLA METS schema. The diverse nature of field data collected and the complexity and requirements of the submission process in the METS context was a technical challenge for the project. The need for actual testing of the tools in the field added to the complexity of the project.

The project also raised some important questions about the transition of data to an archive repository. The complexity of the collected data, and the need for review and additional metadata enrichment meant that some form of staging or holding ‘repository’ was necessary before final uploading into a storage repository. Within this project this staging process was facilitated in a fedora framework, with further consideration of storage in a DSpace repository.

This issue raises some important and interesting issues around how repository platforms and requirements inter-relate with complex data generated from researcher practice in the field. This is particularly the case where researchers may want to add further value (complexity) to their data to enhance their research capability.

The ambition of this project to develop a sophisticated end-to-end process from data capture to repository submission will require further work, and it is hoped this may occur through various collaborations post-APSR.

This project has - however – provided for the development and enhancement of a very important tool and service for in the field research practice. Its development within the RIFF framework, including the implementation of METS based descriptions and mappings, has ensured that the development of these services will continue within the important principles of sustainability.

The project has brought together active researchers with an understanding of the issues through extensive experience in working n the field, and a team of technical staff skilled in the development of tools and the use of equipment common in fieldwork.


Project Manager: Linda Barwick
Technical Lead: Stephen Hayes

September 2007
Read more Wiki
Field Helper 2007 Report on Activities by Steven Hayes, University of Sydney. December 2007.
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