Impacts: Expanding Participation and Reach in Research

The AAI participates in a wider community working to reform how research is conducted and shared. These efforts are rapidly gaining momentum, as granting agencies, universities, libraries, and others see public access as an increasingly central goal in their research missions.

Our Achievements

Over the past several years, the AAI has worked to expand access, participation, and transparency in research, particularly in archaeology and related fields. Some of our key achievements include:

  • Technologies for Data Sharing: Our main data sharing platform, Open Context, continues to explore innovative approaches to data integration, search and retrieval tools, and powerful yet easy to use Web services for wide interoperability of data.
  • Open Data: We helped to pioneer and promote the use of Creative Commons licenses in archaeology. These licenses are fundamental to any interoperability and reuse of archaeological content.
  • Advisory and Leadership Roles: Our team works with related efforts like PeriodO and ZooArchNet, as well as professional societies, including the International Council for Archaeozoology, American Schools of Oriental Research, Society for American Archaeology, Archaeological Institute of America, and the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis.
  • Recognized Expertise: Our staff has helped advise many organizations on intellectual property and information ethics, as well as informatics and interoperability issues. Organizations that have invited knowledge and policy exchanges with our staff include: the American Library Association, the Ford Foundation, the American School of Classical Studies, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, ArchaeoInformatics (now Digital Antiquity), the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (New York University), and the German Archaeological Institute.
  • National Recognition: Two US granting agencies, the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities link to our data publishing system, Open Context.

Significant Data Publications and Impacts

National and International Recognition and Collaborations

  • 2017: Three professional societies endorse the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA), a major data publication in Open Context (Society for American Archaeology, American Anthropological Association (Archaeology Division), and Society for Historical Archaeology).
  • 2015: The German Archaeological Institute deploys a mirror site for Open Context hosting and back-up.
  • 2012–present: International Partnerships include leading efforts in Australia (, a major program building mobile tools for data collection); Europe (RECODE, setting open data policies for European Union research; and the German Archaeological Institute, where we’re setting standards and workflows for archaeological data publication.
  • 2010: The National Science Foundation archaeology program links to Open Context in guidance for Data Management Plans. See example here.
  • 2009–present: Multidisciplinary Partnerships include, an IMLS-funded study of data reuse across multiple disciplines. Eric Kansa also participated on IPinCH (Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage), which is a collaboration with museums, universities, and many indigenous communities exploring ethical and legal concerns about traditional cultural expression.
  • 2011: The National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities links to Open Context in guidance for Data Management Plans. See guidelines here.


  • 2016: Open Context wins the Archaeological Institute of America’s 2016 Award for Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology
  • 2014: AAI team wins “Best Paper” at the 2014 International Digital Curation Conference for the paper Publishing and Pushing: Mixing Models for Communicating Research Data in Archaeology.
  • 2013: The Obama administration White House honors Eric Kansa as a Champion of Change for his work promoting open access and open data in the humanities and social sciences.

Social Media and Journalism

  • 2017: Wide press coverage for modeling the impact of climate change-driven sea-level rise on archaeological sites in Wired, the Washington Post, Forbes, Newsweek, the Guardian, National Geographic, and others (see list here).
  • 2017: Digital Humanities “Editor’s Choice” for the “Endangered Data and the Digital Index of North American Archaeology” blog post.
  • 2017: Eric Kansa interviewed about “Data Rescue” efforts by Wired ( and the Independent.
  • 2013: London School of Economics Social Science Impact Blog post “It’s the Neoliberalism Stupid” saw 700+ tweets, and dozens of comments and follow up discussions.
  • 2013: A More Open Future for the Past, Harvard University, Digital Futures consortium inaugural lecture by Eric Kansa. An article in the Harvard Gazette presents highlights of the talk.

Emphasis on Collaboration

We also recognize the great achievements, energy, and insights of our colleagues and peers. To this end, we are committed to decentralized and distributed approaches in improving research that invite wide participation and innovation. We aim our efforts to complement those of leaders like the Archaeology Data Service and Digital Antiquity, and actively collaborate with researchers and initiatives across the globe on sharing standards, technology, data, good practices, as well as ideas, and encouragement. Our active collaborators include leaders in digital preservation and archiving (the California Digital Library), and leaders in “linked open data” methods including: the Pleiades Project (NYU), Nomisma, the American Numismatic Society, Pelagios, and Arachne (German Archaeological Institute).

We recognize and celebrate the growing ecosystem of archaeological informatics. We realize that other efforts are important elements of the infrastructure that helps us meet our mission and goals. Thus, we take collaboration very seriously, and happily contribute to other efforts. Most of our grant-funded work aims to build on, and contribute to, other open access initiatives.

Beyond Archaeology: Open Government and Science

All of these achievements represent concrete examples of success in promoting more accessible and participatory forms of research. Finally, our experiences in promoting openness in archaeology also translate to impacts and outcomes in many other diverse areas. The software behind Open Context now sees use for public health data sharing, improving access to information on hazardous chemicals. Eric Kansa, part of our team, worked with colleagues to improve Open Government policies, and in 2010 he even participated on a panel discussion with Vivek Kundra, the President’s appointed CIO for the United States Federal Government. In 2013, the White House honored Eric as a Champion of Change in Open Science.