Why do you read this blog?

No archaeology in this post I’m afraid. Instead a request to participate in some interesting research on behalf of a master’s student from Leiden University.

Fleur Schinning is conducting research into the reasons why people read archaeological blogs, with a view to seeing whether they improve the accessibility of the subject. She has created a short online questionnaire at http://goo.gl/forms/z3BAUTyYUL. You can preview the questionnaire in pdf form here. Participants are promised the chance to win 6 copies of Archaeology Magazine.

We will also have the chance to see the results of Fleur’s research when it is complete. Hopefully this will provide some useful insights into how to make the blog even better!

Dear bloggers from the NOSAS blog,

To cut straight to the point; in this e-mail I will be asking if you are willing to contribute and participate in my research concerning blogs and social media about archaeology, on behalf of the NOSAS blog.

I am currently writing my master’s thesis as a part of my specialisation in Heritage Management at Leiden University in the Netherlands, in which I am supervised by Monique van den Dries. My research will focus on the use of blogs and social media and how they contribute to the accessibility of archaeology in the Netherlands.

Public archaeology has been developing considerably in the Netherlands for the last couple of years, but much can still be improved concerning public outreach activities. This is why I have decided to focus my research on communication methods that are favourable in our current digital age and might make archaeology more accessible for a wider public.

For my research I will be looking at several blogs from both the UK and USA; in these countries blogging seems widely accepted and used a lot as a tool in creating support for archaeology, and I have come across some very interesting and successful blogs, of which your blog is one!

To be able to explore how blogging in archaeology contributes to public archaeology, I would like to question the bloggers and blog readers of these blogs. This is where my request comes in. I have set up a questionnaire in which I ask the visitors of your blog several questions regarding their motives for visiting the blog and so on. I would like to ask you if you are willing to either place this questionnaire on your blog, include it in your newsletter/subscription letter, or would like to share on social media (or, of course, share it through all three methods). Either way, the point is that the questionnaire reaches your visitors.

The questionnaire can be viewed here: http://goo.gl/forms/z3BAUTyYUL. I have also added a PDF-file where all the questions can be viewed that are asked in the questionnaire. All participants also have a chance to win a small prize; 6 issues of Archaeology Magazine!

I would also like to ask you a few questions about your blog as a blogger, to gain more insight into the motivations behind writing a blog. I would appreciate it if you are willing to answer this small questionnaire (about 10 questions): http://goo.gl/forms/UGjP5xjnfK. Again, if you would like to review the questions first, there is a PDF-file enclosed.

It would help me a lot if you are willing to partake in my research! In return for your collaboration you receive my eternal gratitude, a mention in my research, insight into the results of the questionnaire (which gives you insight into the motives and wishes your the visitors) and a copy of my research when it is finished this summer.

Kind regards,

Fleur Schinning

Leiden University

Update Feb 2016: Fleur has now shared the results of her survey for NOSAS. I am putting up the comments received from two questions. Do let us know if you agree or disagree!

  • What can be improved on the blog(s) you visit in order to give you more insight in archaeology?

Have a good archives about previous blog writings. Map of the area in sections so you knew what general area the blog post was in.

Regular date for blog to appear.

Not much!  It’s a good blog for me because I know most of the authors and sites through my local archaeology group (NOSAS) which is really the focal point for my archaeology activities, through its website, newsletter, blog and facebook page.

Sometimes the style is not very interesting or exciting. The blogs could be more readable. However, i do accept that most contributors to my favourite blog are amateurs.

  • Do you have any additional comments?

Although the blog can be interactive, the NOSAS one is really a means of posting articles of interest written by members and friends of the society.  As such we thought it would replace the newsletter, but it hasn’t.  The newsletter keeps a more personal/people/family style, whereas the blog is used for articles of wider and perhaps longer term interest.

I think archaeology is doing a grand job of promoting itself to the wider public.  I have been an archaeologist for over 20 years and feel the new media is perfect for instant updates on sites, broader research projects and volunteering opportunities.

As editor my immediate response was that the first critical comment about better blog archives and maps was really useful. I have now added more archive categories for different archaeological time periods eg Bronze Age, Iron Age etc. Therefore clicking on the Iron Age category would list all those posts that concern I.A. archaeology. These are not exclusive, so posts will appear in more than one category if appropriate.

There is a location tag in almost all the posts, so if there was a way to have posts automatically displayed on a single map of Scotland on the menu somewhere then that would be fantastic. In theory readers would be able to look at the map and click on blogs in those areas they were interested in, eg Skye. Unfortunately from what I can gather there doesn’t seem to be a way to do this on a wordpress.com hosted blog currently.

An alternative solution would be to create additional categories for blogs by area eg Wester Ross, Easter Ross, Inverness-shire etc.  However I am inclined to think that having too many different categories might just complicate matters unnecessarily. (James)



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