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Encoding Archival Context: An Australian Perspective on Situating Data in Frameworks of Meaning

Presenter 1
Gavan McCarthy
Australian Social Science Data Archive

In 2008 the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre joined the Australian Social Science Data Archive, not as social science researchers nor as experienced data archivists but as a group with significant experience in pushing the boundaries of generalised archival practice. We had been studying and developing tools to systematically document the larger contexts in which archival materials are located, to understand the cultural informatics of meaning and how it is ascribed both by the archivists and users of records. This paper examines the use of two tools we use (the Online Heritage Resource Manager – OHRM, and the Heritage Documentation Management System – HDMS) while working directly social science researchers and their data. In particular it explores metadata interchange with DDI (Versions 2 and 3) and the positioning of these tools within the Open Archive Information System reference model. The systematic documentation of contexts (there are often more than one) has numerous benefits but for social science data it is probably the management of rich and highly interconnected authority records where the most obvious benefit lies. The paper will conclude with reference to recent work on the development and utilisation of the Encoded Archival Context xml schema.

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