Next weekend, three of our project participants will come together to undertake the “Blind Data Analysis and Report Writing Study.” Participants include practicing zooarchaeologists Justin Lev-Tov (Statistical Research, Inc.), Levent Atici (UNLV) and Sarah Whitcher Kansa (AAI). The aim of this study is to highlight the importance of publishing original datasets alongside syntheses, and most importantly, of documenting the datasets and the methodologies used in the study.
This weekend’s meeting will focus on the diversity of interpretations when different zooarchaeologists work independently on the same dataset. The publicly available dataset of animal bone analysis from the 1972-1978 excavations at Choga Mish, Iran has been selected for this project. Each of the analysts have been given basic ground rules, but analytical methods and interpretive aims are not defined. We will compare our results, addressing both the selection and use of different methodological approaches to the data and the divergence of the three researchers’ interpretations and conclusions. Based on our different experiences working with the same dataset, we will identify the types of information that are imperative to data reuse. We will then join the three analyses and revise our methods and results to produce a collaborative interpretation of the dataset.
We expect this study to result in at least two collaborative presentations/publications, which will focus on the theoretical and practical outcomes of this study. These include “Other People’s Data: Blind Analysis and Report Writing as a Demonstration of the Imperative of Data Publication” (which will be presented at the upcoming ICAZ conference) and “New Light on Diet and Animal Use at Choga Mish, Iran: Analysis on Faunal Data from the 1961-1971 Excavations” (which we plan to make available online, linked to the original dataset). I will update this post with links to the papers as they come out.