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Durham University

Department of English Studies

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Publication details for Professor Claire Warwick

Terras, M., Warwick, C., Fisher, C., Baker, M., Clarke, A., Fulford, M., Grove, M., O'Riordan, E. & Rains, M. (2008), Virtual Environments for Research in Archaeology (VERA): Use and Usability of Integrated Virtual Environments in Archaeological Research, Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts 2008: New Communities of Knowledge and Practice. University of Cambridge, 14th- 17th September 2008. Cambridge, UK, University of Cambridge.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a study by the VERA project (Virtual Environments for Research in Archaeology) which investigated how archaeologists approach and use advanced virtual research environments to access post-field excavation data. At the research excavation of the Roman town of Silchester, an advanced online database system for managing recording, analysis, archiving and online publication of archaeological finds, contexts and plans has been developed. Data entered into the system provides a rich, detailed information source for post-excavation archaeological research. However, little is known about how such virtual research environments are used, or how their usability can be improved, to facilitate access to archaeological information.

This paper details our findings about how archaeologists utilise such rich information environments to undertake new research, and the type of benefits and problems which arise from adopting virtual research environments in archaeology. Through a combination of user workshops, interviews, and case studies, we investigated how both new and experienced users approach the virtual research environment, and how we can improve the usability of such systems to facilitate their relevance, usefulness, and uptake.

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