7.4 Recommendations

Many of the issues identified in Sections 7.2 and 7.3 are of course already being addressed. For example, making past editions of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Discovery and Excavation in Scotland freely available online has been one of the greatest steps forward in addressing the 'accessibility' problem. This is to be followed, in 2013, by the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society becoming available online to members - an arrangement that is matched by subscriber e-access to other journals such as Antiquity and the European Journal of Archaeology. Other initiatives, to make grey literature available online, are also to be welcomed. However, there is much still to do, and the key recommendations are as follows:

  1. Create a hub for information on at least the Scottish Neolithic although it is difficult to believe that this would not be a valuable initiative for all periods, where all the diverse sources of information can be identified, with links to relevant online resources while also making more of the sources of information available online as well as in hard copy. Some suggestions as to the contents of this will be made available on the ScARF wiki.
  2. Develop databases, and in particular develop plans for integrating sites and monuments and artefact information on a national basis, and develop the Scottish Human Remains Database - an initiative that will be progressed during 2012.
  3. Reinstate a 14C online database, and maintain and update it
  4. Promote opportunities for interdisciplinary discussion of research needs, and encourage more major project applications (to bodies such as AHRC) that feature integrated strategies for enhancing our understanding.
  5. Develop mechanisms for skills transfer.

These recommendations should be viewed against the reminder that the individual researcher has the responsibility of developing her/his own expertise: there is a difference to be drawn between improving the efficiency of information dissemination and spoon-feeding. At the end of the day, we need debate about the Scottish Neolithic that is above all well-informed; there is no short-cut to achieving knowledge and understanding of the rich resource of information that already exists, and to developing a critical faculty that is able to assess this information.