Economic Impact of Research Data Infrastructure: new study on ADS

We are very pleased to announce a new study and collaboration between Charles Beagrie Ltd and the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies University of Victoria (Prof John Houghton) on the impact of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) based at the University of York in the UK.

For more than fifteen years the ADS has been working to serve its users, both by acting as a long-term repository for valuable archaeological data and by providing open and free access to this data for research purposes. Its users, both those who deposit data and those who access it, come from all possible sectors of the archaeology discipline.

ADS regularly deal with data and data requests from academic archaeologists, local and national government archaeologists, the commercial sector, the community archaeology sector and, being an open archive, the general public. The ADS’s significance in the archaeological landscape has grown considerably in the last decade or so and with the use of access statistics and user feedback it has generally been easy for the ADS to demonstrate that it offers a valuable service to its users. However, it is a much more challenging proposition to find ways of analysing ADS usage that make a clear statement about the very important issue of how much economic impact that the ADS has on the sector. The new ADS Impact Study funded by JISC is intending to investigate in detail exactly this question and to give a clear indication of what the value of having a free to use and open access resource like the ADS is to the whole archaeological sector.

Engaging the expertise of Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd. and Professor John Houghton of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) , the project will analyse and survey indicators and perceptions of the value of digital collections held by the ADS and how those indicators and perceptions of value can be measured. The CSES and Charles Beagrie Ltd have led the field in conducting value perception and economic impact surveys for digital repositories and they have recently completed a similar exercise with the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) in the UK.

A major element of the study will be two forms of stakeholder survey. The first phase will see a selection of users and depositors from all sectors be invited to participate in in-depth interviews, and secondly an online survey will be launched to gauge the levels of use, impacts, and perceptions of value amongst the broadest possible range of ADS users.

Our economic analysis aims to include a range of approaches, starting with the most immediate and direct measures of value that are likely to represent lower bound estimates of the value of ADS data and services and moving outwards to estimates of the wider economic benefits:

We hope this project will not only have immediate benefits for the ADS, its stakeholders and user communities, but will build on previous work to investigate methodologies and good practice in the area of valuation that will be directly applicable to other repositories, in different domains, allowing them to reap the benefits of this work as they seek to analyse their own economic impact. For further information on the ADS Impact study see the Project web site.

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