The FAIMS Repository is merging with tDAR. All records in FAIMS will be migrated to tDAR and will be searchable in tDAR by September 2016. Details of how to find FAIMS records in tDAR will be provided at that time.
To upload new projects and resources, go to www.tdar.org.Read more about 'Why the FAIMS Repository needs a new home'
In May 2016, the FAIMS Project entered into a partnership with the Center for Digital Antiquity at Arizona State University in order to transfer all resources in the FAIMS Repository into The Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR).
The FAIMS Repository was established in 2013 as part of the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) program to store data sets, documents, images, and sensory data produced by archaeological research in Australia or collected by Australian archaeologists working abroad. The primary focus of this first phase of the FAIMS project was the creation of an Android mobile application for archaeological field recording, and much of the development of the Repository was concerned with automating the ingest of data created on the mobile app. The Repository also subsumed the Australian Historical Archaeological Database (AHAD).
The Repository is, essentially, a slightly modified Australian implementation of tDAR ('The Digital Archaeological Record') which is an open-source repository system developed by Digital Antiquity - a not-for-profit organisation at Arizona State University committed to the long-term digital preservation of archaeological data. The FAIMS Repository was developed by VeRSI (later VPAC, then V3), working in collaboration with Digital Antiquity. While some features were never implemented, the Repository was running live from repo.fedarch.org and monitored in-kind by V3 staff until the closure of the organisation in 2015. The FAIMS team has been managing the repository in-house since then, while exploring options for funding more sustainable system administration.
The short answer is a lack of funds and resources to administer an Australian repository for archaeological data.
The long answer is a range of circumstances has made it more desirable to merge with a larger, international repository, rather than secure the resources needed to sustain an Australian repository. These circumstances include but are not limited to:
The initial development of the Repository was hampered by technical difficulties on a number of fronts, including adaptation to NeCTAR, RDSI, and other Australian national infrastructure). Meanwhile, the developers (VeRSI, then VPAC, then V3) went through two major restructures doing development, eventually ceasing operation in 2015.
The tDAR software is complex, highly customised to the task of long-term data archiving. Few local providers have the expertise or inclination to learn the system and take on system administration at a cost the Australian archaeological community can fund from ingest fees. Digital Antiquity knows the software better than anyone, but cannot practically take on the administration of Australian-based servers.
Furthermore, appropriate data curation infrastructure (essentially, organisations that are willing to guarantee the survival and availability of data over the long term - say, a 100-year horizon) are lacking in Australia at any price. We have approached several libraries and museums, the sort of organisations who often play that role in North America or Europe, but none were interested in data curation that included datasets beyond their relatively narrow research and collection policies. We have raised this broader problem with ANDS, NeCTAR, and AARNET, who have acknowledged the need for curation services, but do not offer any short-term solutions.
While we benefited from generous NeCTAR and ARC grants to build the FAIMS infrastructure, both explicitly excluded expenditure on maintenance and operation. This is typical of many grants which fund infrastructure: tertiary institutions are expected to run and maintain such infrastructure in perpetuity from central funds. This arrangement is unsustainable in today's funding environment.
While the Repository was running live from repo.fedarch.org, it attracted lots of curious users - but few depositors. This may in part reflect the inevitable a lag in data deposition which often comes a year or two after fieldwork, or more likely the lesser urgency for deposition vs data collection, but it has proved a difficult to justify funding bids with such low rates of adoption.
By returning the records to the tDAR main branch, we are preserving a similar functionality that users have come to know, taking advantage of newer features not available in the FAIMS software, and securing preservation of the data in the long-term in the hands of a much better resourced staff focussed solely on digital preservation. This enables the FAIMS team to focus on enhancing digital data collection services.
As we have gained experience with data archiving and publication, it has become clear that different datasets need different homes. Other repositories and data publication services have also matured and improved in the time since we began developing the FAIMS Repository. In future, FAIMS will act as a broker for various data services. While we expect tDAR to remain an excellent choice for many archaeologists, mukurtu.org (for example) might work better for culturally sensitive datasets requiring sophisticated access controls, whereas opencontext.org might be better suited to highly structured digital datasets with no access restrictions.
For users who contributed records to FAIMS:
For users who registered with FAIMS but did not contribute: