Frequently asked questions

Basic Questions

OASIS V is the brand new system now underway in England. OASIS IV is the old system that dates back to 2006! At the time of writing that’s still being used in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the maritime zone of Wales. Scotland is moving soon though, see next question for details.

In England: if you have been told by the ADS or HER to use OASIS V. If not, continue to make any new records in IV and your data will be moved across in the current migration.

In Scotland: the timeline for migration to OASIS V is scheduled for much later in 2021 when we are using the submission of reports to DES as a suitable cut-off point. Please continue to use OASIS IV until notified by ADS or your HER, and do look out for alerts via the OASIS user list, Blog, or in most cases a direct email to the email registered with your current account.

In Northern Ireland and Wales (maritime) only, continue to use OASIS IV until instructed.

The best place to start is the Help page and Manual. The Manual guides you through the background and rationale of the form, and thereafter what to do on each page.

In addition to this, there is also a designated Video Channel for OASIS Training. This has a series of very short videos explaining key features and pages, and where time permits we hope to keep it updated to respond to FAQs or other user requirements.

It used to be Online AcceS to the Index of archaeological investigationS. To reflect the fact that OASIS covers all areas of the historic environment, it’s now just a name!

You should be notified via an email: either to the email address registered in your old OASIS IV account, or in some cases to the known OASIS V account Administrator in the new system.

Once records have been migrated, you can still use the old organisational account in OASIS IV, but you will notice that you can no longer edit or create records. Text on the screen also explains that your records have been moved.

If it’s with an individual record, please use the ‘view migrated record function’ on the project list page to report this directly with us.

If the problem is more widespread, please email oasis@ads.ac.uk where we can investigate and assist.

Please note that all original OASIS IV is archived and retrievable, so in the case of an unlikely mishap in the migration no data is lost.

The About OASIS shows you which countries are using OASIS.

The About OASIS shows you which countries are using OASIS. Links to pages for individual countries then gives much more detailed information. On these pages you will find a space that lists all organisations currently registered. Where relevant, it shows you how many OASIS records they are responsible for, a basic description of the organisation itself, and in many cases logos and links to external websites.

This is used to denote the level of use by HERs in England only. In certain circumstances the HER cannot engage fully with the review process, and so the Lite action allows information to move through the system without review from the HER

OASIS LITE collects an enhanced bibliographic record (i.e. less information than the Standard OASIS form) which is used as discovery metadata for locating the report.

OASIS LITE records do not require any review from the HER user. When the core fields have been completed, the bibliographic record and report will be transferred to the ADS Library automatically, with no further action required from any user.

Yes. As long as you have selected them on the Admin/Reviewers page, then the HER staff can see all parts of the record.

Administration Questions

OASIS is free to use, including the upload of reports. Additional material for the digital archive should not be uploaded.

The maintenance of OASIS is provided by Service agreements with Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland.

The current system (OASIS V), was based on a technical specification from the ADS based on an extensive consultation of the historic environment sector. The system you see here is thus the requirements of the sector.

Yes. The ADS ensure the application code, database, and any uploaded files are backed up according to best practice. A brief contingency plan is also lodged with each national agency, ensuring they have the means to recover information from the ADS in the event of catastrophe.

Your Account

All existing Level 1 (data creators) and Level 2 users (HER) should already have been contacted with details of their account, and the process for moving old accounts over to the new system.

If you are a new user, you can Register for an account using the link in the top toolbar. If you are creating a new organisation, then you can create that as well. In certain cases – where higher level users have potential access to large numbers of records - an extra level of validation will be in place before you have access to any records:

  • For new Level 2 reviewers (e.g. HERs)
  • For new Level 3 reviewers (museums and archives)
  • For new Level 5 reviewers (Specialist data users)

In these cases, ADS will review the account to ensure that the user is genuine and that there is no duplication with an existing organisation. New Level 5 users will be referred to OASIS Management Board where appropriateS

Yes. You cannot log into OASIS V with your old OASIS IV organisational details. An account Admin should have been set up for your organisation in OASIS V.

Yes. There is no limit.

Please email oasis@ads.ac.uk for more information and we can confirm current status, and help you with any changes.

If you have already registered and signed up to your organisation as an Admin. You can use the ‘organisation profile’ to change any details we have on record.

If you are not an Administrator for your organisation, going to the organisation profile page will show you who is, and they should make the changes.

If there is no current account Administrator, or you are uncertain of the status of the account then please contact oasis@ads.ac.uk where we can advise.

As long as it is an email account that you or your organisation have control over (security of information), then that’s fine.

If you have created OASIS records, the account must persist in some form so that we know who created them. However we can remove you from the account and thus stop any further notifications from/about the system.

If the account and any records were created in error, and need to be removed completely please email oasis@ads.ac.uk.

Your request to join an organisation is waiting for the account Admin to authorise you. If this does not happen, please contact oasis@ads.ac.uk with your problem.

Please be aware that we need to be completely sure of the veracity of your request before we authorise you to join an organisation, so please have some form of evidence of your status to help us in this process.

Yes. Under your User Profile, go to “This user's notifications for Archaeology Data Service projects”. There you can see all the email notifications appropriate to your account, and if required set some/all to ‘Never’.

Yes. Please email oasis@ads.ac.uk with instructions. We can also move records between organisations if required,

If you have created or edited a record, a user with access rights to your record will see your name.

The only user who can see other details such as email addresses, is the ADS as Systems Administrator. The ADS cannot see passwords - these are encrypted in the OASIS database.

All use of personal information entered into OASIS is covered by the Privacy Policy.

You (if Admin) or the account Admin can stop users from accessing your organisations records by using the users section under the organisational profile. This is instantaneous.

In emergency situations, for example where an Admin cannot be contacted, please contact oasis@ads.ac.uk with instructions.

If you cannot validate/recognise someone, do nothing. Such a request will never be successful unless authorised by an account Admin or the ADS user.

The ADS will only authorise a request to join, where there is clear evidence that this is a valid request.

Thesauri and Wordlists

The lists you see in OASIS are all from the Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) vocabularies, The FISH vocabularies consist of a number of structured terminologies for recording heritage assets such as monuments, buildings, maritime craft, historic aeroplanes, archaeological objects, components and landscapes. They also cover professional management and archaeological event terms (interventions), types of evidence and archaeological sciences (samples, ecofacts).

The vocabularies have been developed over many years, in collaboration with organisations such as Historic England (formerly English Heritage), ALGAO, Collections Trust and the National Trust.

All of the wordlists are based on vocabularies created or hosted by the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH). If you have a constructive comment, please contact FISH.

All of the wordlists are based on vocabularies created or hosted by the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH). The current thesauri used by OASIS have been agreed by the funders, but all are interested in hearing if additional lists are required.

To nominate a thesaurus, please email oasis@ads.ac.uk with the name and location of the thesaurus. This will be raised with the OASIS Management Board for review.

If you don’t think the thesaurus exists but should, please alert FISH with the comment and nature of the new thesaurus - it may already be in development or planned, so FISH would like to help!

Select a term that will work, no matter how tenuous or broad, and proceed through the form. If you have a suggestion for an alteration to the thesaurus, please nominate this change to FISH.

In rare cases, reliance on third party web services may cause these to be temporarily unavailable. The ADS will automatically know about this, and the issue will be resolved very quickly. If you find this issue persisting however, email oasis@ads.ac.uk where we will ensure the issue is resolved.

OASIS Plus Modules

Search for and select the Activity Type ‘Geophysical Survey’ on the Activity Page. Once you have saved that page the option to complete the geophysics module should appear.

The ability to add in your technique type (e.g. Gradiometer Survey) is in the specialised module itself.

Search for and select the Activity Type ‘Graveyard Survey’ on the Activity Page. Once you have saved that page the option to complete the geophysics module should appear.

If doing a geophysical survey then yes, completing the module is part of the required fields.

Location Section

Location is meant to record the extent of your study area. This can be a single central point, a thematic study area (such as a survey of churches in North Devon), a larger survey site that covers a defined geographical area.

The Help Text and Manual explains in more detail how these work.

Please note that the location is purely about the project location itself - if for example you are recording a project for a site in a certain parish, district or council area. You do not need to record the extent of the administrative area as well. The form does this for you once it knows where the project is.

Two options.

You can use the predefined list of administrative areas (counties, national parks). Please note that you can select multiple areas, for example ‘East Devon’ and ‘Exeter’.

If your area does not equate to a defined administrative area, then use the option to upload your own area. This is normally a Zipped Shapefile.

In most cases the form should give a message stating why the upload has not been successful.

If you see the message ‘CRS not set’, this means that your shapefile is lacking a coordinate reference system (for example British National Grid), so the form cannot understand how to process and display.

In other cases it may be that the shapefile is too complex. OASIS is meant to store an extent of area, but cannot deal with shapefiles that contain very large numbers of vertices within a polygon, or else large numbers of polygons. If you see this message, think about how your shapefile could be simplified to denote your project area.

If you are a reviewer, and your extent of reviewing area is not being processed, please contact oasis@ads.ac.uk where we can assist.

If you are a user of any level, and your upload is not working but you think it should (for example, CRS present, simple shapefile), please email oasis@ads.ac.uk where we can assist.

We have to be careful not to overload that page with too many options. However, if you have a sensible suggestion please email oasis@ads.ac.uk with your recommendation. Please be aware that we need to be as accurate as possible, so providing or signposting to an authoritative boundary or web service is required for us to implement.

Yes. We have initial agreements with the national agencies that support OASIS to act as a sub-organisation, and thus access OS maps under terms of their licence. This is being finalised, but hopefully going forward we’ll be able to add a much greater range of maps in.

Report Section

It depends on the settings of the Level 2 reviewer selected. The Level 2 user has the option to select whether a physical upload of a report is mandatory or optional. Most are mandatory.

If multiple Level 2 users are selected, and with different settings, the form defaults to mandatory.

Yes, the OASIS licence is non-exclusive.

As you are not making any financial gain from disseminating your reports via OASIS, you should be covered by the terms of most current OS licence types. If you are at all concerned about the terms of your licence, you may wish to clarify with Ordnance Survey directly.

Yes, there are options on the report page to set an embargo, including where required “no release”.

Yes. There is space on the Report page to add records for Journal articles and Monographs.

Certain organisations, such as Historic England, issue ISBN identifiers for their research reports. This is not a mandatory requirement for reports.

This is because this part of the system requires this information to be synchronized with the corresponding Library record. Once your first record is in the ADS Library this should appear for every record going forward.

The most reliable way of creating a link would be to use the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) which has been allocated to each report.

A DOI is a persistent identifier which you can use to consistently and accurately reference digital objects and/or content. The good thing about these identifiers is that they will never change, so even if the url of a report changes, the doi will still resolve to the right place.

Each report transferred to the Library should have the unique DOI shown with the bibliographic record in OASIS.

This DOI will look like this https://dx.doi.org/10.5284/1008885

Not all OASIS records will have a report in the library. This may be because a report wasn't uploaded, or because we do not have permission to make the report available.

You may experience problems attaching grey literature to an OASIS record if the file is open.

Make sure your grey literature report is not currently in use before you upload it into OASIS.

If you are getting a time out error, it may be because the file is too big (see next question).

Reports are transferred to the OASIS server via FTP. There is currently no limit on the size of file that will upload, but if your report is very large and your internet connection slow, you may find that the time taken to upload the file renders the operation impractical.

If your connection is around 1.5Mbps or slower, then the file may be too big to upload in the time allowed and it might be better to try and reduce the file size.

Large file sizes can be created when very high resolution images are included within a report. You may find you can reduce the resolution of any large images included within the report without adversely affecting the user experience. This may significantly reduce the size of your files. Please try doing this before you try to upload. Remember that if you are struggling to upload a file, it is likely that others may struggle to download it from the form or the library at a later date.

If all else fails it may be helpful to know that the OASIS form allows the upload of multiple files. If your grey literature report is very large, you may find you need to split it down into smaller chunks before upload.

If you are still struggling, email oasis@ads.ac.uk and we’ll do our best to resolve.

Files currently accepted for report upload include standard word processing/document formats: Microsoft Word documents (doc and docx), and Portable Document Format (including the archival pdf format 'pdf/a').

An archival format of the PDF standard is now available. This is called 'PDF/Archive' or PDF/A. PDF/A files are more suitable for long-term preservation than normal PDF files so if you wish to use PDF to upload your grey literature, we would prefer that you try to create them as PDF/A instead. We accept PDF/A 1 and 2.

The PDF/A format is supported by many different software packages, making it a format that is relatively easy to create and work with. You may already have software that will allow you to create PDF/A files, but if you do not, there is software freely available to download that should help.

If you wish to continue to create standard PDF files, there are a few guidlelines that should be followed in order to make these files as easy to preserve as possible:

PDF files should be created / saved as PDF version 1.4 or 1.7. The following settings should be used: Embed and subset all fonts Embed all colour information Embed all images Do not link to/reference external files Use standards-based metadata where appropriate Add PDF tags to the document to provide structure Do not include: Audio and video content (or other multimedia) PDF transparency Encryption or security measures e.g passwords or printing/opening/editing restrictions LZW compression Javascript Executable file launches

Please note: The ADS are unable to carry out preservation work and migrations on PDF files that have been 'secured', so will be unable to include these in the grey literature library and archive.

All filenames will be changed as files are uploaded into the OASIS form. Each file will be renamed with a character string that consists of the OASIS ID for the record plus a numeric suffix. This is so that your report files are easily associated with the OASIS record they relate to. If you are uploading multiple files we recommend you do not make reference to other files within your upload by their original filename. Where your files should appear in a certain order please upload them in this order so that this order is reflected in the new filenames that are created by the OASIS form.

Unless you have been specifically asked by the HER, then please do not upload backlogs of records. The primary aim of OASIS is to record current projects, or those close to the current year. Adding large backlogs can add to the work of reviewers (HERs) or duplicate effort.

No. The document upload is for unpublished reports only. You can use the section to record the Bibliographic details of any published reports the project has produced. This is helpful for all users to see where extra sources can be found.

No. OASIS is for unpublished reports only. In England, users should consult the ADS where the ADS-EASY system can be used for small/medium deposits.

In Scotland there is the ability to upload images (for DES) and shapefiles (for informing Canmore). These are not formally preserved by the ADS.

Access to information

Anyone authorised as a user of the organisation responsible for creating the record. For example all users of Oxford Archaeology will see all Oxford Archaeology records.

Each Level 2 reviewer (normally the HER), each level 3 user (Museum or Archive), and each national agency will also have access to the record at any point after they have been selected to review your record.

In Scotland, each record can automatically be accessed by Discovery and Excavation Scotland.

If you have chosen a Research Framework, registered users can see completed OASIS records. Completed equates to all core fields complete, record reviewed or record in the ADS Library. In Scotland, this is only accessible after the record has been reviewed and published by DES.

Other users of OASIS cannot see your record.

OASIS is technically a ‘closed system’, which means that you have to be logged in and have the correct access rights (see above) to see a record.

Public access to information entered in OASIS is through use of the systems where it is re-used:

  • Reports in theADS Library
  • The record of the local HER
  • In England, information in the HER can also be accessed via the Heritage Gateway
  • In Scotland, information can be published via DES
  • In Scotland, information is re-used in updating Canmore records.

Your request to join an organisation is waiting for the account Admin to authorise you. If this does not happen, please contact oasis@ads.ac.uk with your problem.

Please be aware that we need to be completely sure of the veracity of your request before we authorise you to join an organisation, so please have some form of evidence of your status to help us in this process.

Public access to information entered in OASIS is through use of the systems where it is re-used:

  • Reports in theADS Library
  • The record of the local HER
  • In England, information in the HER can also be accessed via the Heritage Gateway
  • In Scotland, information can be published via DES
  • In Scotland, information is re-used in updating Canmore records.

Each record has an Admin panel. This shows the ‘Form lifecycle’, where every major process or event is logged. This includes the name and organisation associated with the change.

A further Admin function called ‘Form changes’ shows the exact changes that have been made to a record.

Admin/Review Section

For Level 2, in each case regardless of country you should always pick the local/regional HER. This allows them to see and access the information you enter to update their records.

If you are undertaking a project under Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC), you should see the option to pick this as a reviewer as well. Please do so.

If you are not undertaking a project under Scheduled Monument Consent, but do see this option, this means your project falls within or overlaps with the known boundary of a Scheduled Monument. If your project has nothing to do with SMC, then please ignore it and carry on.

If you are undertaking a project under Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC), you should see the option to pick this as a reviewer as well. Please do so.

If you are not undertaking a project under Scheduled Monument Consent, but do see this option, this means your project falls within or overlaps with the known boundary of a Scheduled Monument. If your project has nothing to do with SMC, then please ignore it and carry on, remembering to pick your local HER as reviewer.

For Level 2, in each case regardless of country you should always pick the local/regional HER. This allows them to see and access the information you enter to update their records.

If you are undertaking a project under Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC), you should see the option to pick this as a reviewer as well. Please do so.

If you are not undertaking a project under Scheduled Monument Consent, but do see this option, this means your project falls within or overlaps with the known boundary of a Scheduled Monument. If your project has nothing to do with SMC, then please ignore it and carry on.

This appears as a default level 2 reviewer for all records covered by England (terrestrial). You should only pick this if doing a Historic England funded project.

Your large area will bring back any Level 2 reviewer the boundary overlaps. In most cases select all the local HERs you know your area covers, and you think should have access to the record.

Please note, if you are doing a Historic England funded project, you should always choose ‘Historic England review’ and the local HER(s)

Keywords and Results Section

Fundamentally this is up to you. The Keywords are meant to help users understand the key findings of your record, and to help users of the ADS Library find your report.

They are not meant to be exhaustive and include every single find or monument type that may have been identified.

As the compiler of the record, you are in the best place to record and communicate to other users. In most cases this would be reporting to someone on the key aspects of what you’ve found, and to draw their attention to the record and associated report.

Absence of evidence can of course, also be significant. So in certain cases where the evidence may be negligible (uncertain geophysics results, or unstratified finds) recording this section as No results of significance is perfectly fine.

Please indicate briefly (and politely!), that nothing of significance was found.

You can be selective. Try and focus on the key highlights as if writing a short abstract for your peers.

On the Keywords page, ensure the question “Were any significant monuments or artefacts found during your project?” is set to “no”.

Research Frameworks help us identify what is important or significant and provide research questions and objectives to help co-ordinate and focus our research effort. Please see information from Historic England and the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) for more information.

Each individual Framework exists in OASIS, these are normally flagged when your project falls within a geographic extent or equates to a specific theme.

Adding a Research Framework means that these groups can access your OASIS record (when complete, and in Scotland when published by DES) and use the information to update specific Research Framework questions. This gives an extra dimension to the data you put into OASIS, and means your work is actively contributing to answering research questions.

More work will be spent on developing this section in the future.

Questions about HS2

You should login as the designated HS2 account associated with your organisation. You should also ensure that on the Reviewers page you select the HS2 reviewer and the local HER. Otherwise the OASIS form should be filled out as normal.

The HER level 2 reviewer is responsible for reviewing any HS2 records and moving them through the OASIS workflow. The HS2 level 2 reviewer can see, access, and where necessary edit records.

Archives

On the Admin/Reviewers page you need to change “Is there an archive for this project?” to YES, and then use the options to select the future location of the relevant parts of the Archive.

Once completed, the Archives module will open up to allow you and the relevant Archive/Museum to record appropriate details.

Short term. Please use the option ‘Archives no repository’ as a placeholder. Then, please email oasis@ads.ac.uk with a description of where you are depositing.

If possible we will create a record for this organisation and ensure relevant archives are updated to reflect. In certain cases, we will have to pass this issue onto the OASIS Management Board for resolution. Selecting the ‘Archives no repository’ will however allow you to move through the form.

Please fill in the basic information in the Archives module. This should be enough to allow you to proceed through the form.

Via OASIS Management Board, the SMA now have a much greater oversight of how OASIS can deal with archives, and issues such as this will be highlighted and resolved moving forward.

Workflow Questions

Yes. The Delete button is located in the new Admin section. It is accompanied by a notes field to explain why the record has been removed.

  • Records marked for removal are hidden in the database, and can be returned at any point.
  • A Level 1 user can delete/reinstate any record where it has not been reviewed (Level 2 or 4) and/or transferred to Library
  • A Level 2 can delete/reinstate any record where it has not been reviewed (Level 4 Scotland) an/or transferred to Library
  • A Level 4 can delete/reinstate any record, except where transferred to Library
  • A Level 6 (ADS) can delete/reinstate anything upon request and agreement of all parties involved.

If you’re in the record, then the space next to the Summary section goes from a cross to a green tick.

If you’re on the project list view, under ‘Record info’ the grey icon turns to a green tick.

As quickly as possible! The process is now much simpler, but still requires staff capacity to run and process reports.

The record is currently with a Level 2 user (normally the local HER) to review the content and report. Each HER runs a different workflow for checking OASIS reports.

Normally, the HER has six months from completion of the record to review.

Yes. At any point. OASIS records are now always open.

OASIS is hosted by ADS, on behalf of UK national heritage agencies. OASIS is governed by a Management Board consisting of representatives of these agencies, and also key stakeholders including ALGAO.

Constructive comments are always welcome. Please email oasis@ads.ac.uk with your recommendation. Recommendations are passed to OASIS Management Board for consideration of benefit and impact.

Technical Questions

A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a persistent digital identifier. In short, unlike a traditional URL link it never breaks, regardless of any domain, systems or infrastructure changes that occur.

A common format for recording data spatially. There are reputable software tools available, such as QGIS where you can quickly and simply create a shapefile if needed. We’ve also created a video explaining the shapefile format and how to upload to OASIS.

A common interchange format used for moving data from one system to another.

A ZIP is a file format that supports lossless data compression, and allows you to bundle multiple files together as a single entity. OASIS uses ZIP to upload shapefiles (which consist of many individual bits). We’ve created a video explaining the shapefile format, ZIP, and how to upload to OASIS.

Yes. You can export any records you have access rights to. You can do this from the main project screen (including batch options), or individually from the Admin panel.

Current export option is JSON, and will include CSV in the near future.

A PDF version of the record can be exported from the Summary Page.

A RESTful API is currently in development. Initially, this will allow users to retrieve records they have access rights to.

Yes. In certain circumstances deleting a record may be necessary. Please email oasis@ads.ac.uk with the OASIS ID and DOI of the report. In certain cases, we will require this is also authorised by the original creator and/or HER as appropriate.

Activity Section

National agencies like to understand why all these projects are happening!

No. This is not mandatory, and should only appear (and be used) where the project was the direct result of a planning application.

This is useful for following up queries within an organisation, especially with backlog reports and records. No other information is stored or displayed.

OASIS Licence Questions

The standard licence is the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. This allows the metadata and report to be reused by other people, so long as they cite it.

Using OASIS

Yes. We think it works best on a larger screen but can be used on mobile devices.

All modern browsers should work with OASIS V. We have found some compatibility issues with older versions of Windows Explorer, so if possible please do make sure your browser is as up-to-date as possible.

Your browser will need to have javascript enabled in order to take full advantage of the error checking mechanisms within the OASIS form. If you do not have javascript enabled a warning will appear on the login page.

Questions from HERs

Yes. The record is always open. An HER user can go back in and add/correct/remove any information they want (including HER IDs) after review.