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ScARF Project Update: What our users think
20th November 2015 | Categories:
A summary of the ScARF survey results.
In the Autumn 2015 Society of Antiquaries of Scotland newsletter (available at https://www.socantscot.org/fellows/ if you are a Fellow), we mentioned that ScARF was undertaking a survey looking to hear what people thought of the project and maybe even provide some ideas on where work should go next.
We are proud to report that the survey received 97 responses – thank you to everyone who took part. The survey is now closed and the results are in – an amazing 96% of respondents would recommend ScARF to others and at least 25 projects have used ScARF research recommendations in applying for a total of at least £120k of funding! The full report on the results is available to download at http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/content/scarf-user-survey-2015.
The answers provided indicate that ScARF website (www.scottishheritagehub.com) is in fairly constant use (30% use it on a monthly or more frequent basis) for a range of projects and tasks by the archaeological community and that the same community would appreciate and value the resource being further developed. Most respondents (68%) trust the accuracy of the archaeological information “a lot” and it is considered “a collaborative and authorative framework that supports and guides (my) work” and “an impressive resource”. 46% of respondents have cited ScARF in a publication, which shows how embedded in daily archaeological work it has perhaps become.
There are, as would be expected with a project that is the first of its kind, refinements that could be made and the user community appeared to highlight the need for updates to the panel content, and in some cases, depth of coverage where some felt certain topics had been missed out. The comment facility is underused, with most respondents (86%) having never left a comment on the website and nearly half (43%) of the survey respondents have never downloaded any of the additional files and almost a third (30%) did not even know that they were available. It is vital for the addition of new archaeological content and debate that users know that they are able to register and make comments on the website and this should be made clearer in future work.
Over half of respondents plan on “definitely” using ScARF for work in the next three years. Just under half of respondents plan on “definitely” using ScARF for their own interest or fun in the next three years. It is therefore likely to continue to have a highly visible presence in Scottish archaeology. Over £120,000 of grant income has been generated by those responding to the survey.
Some of the other main points indicated by the results of the survey data are as follows:
- The majority (43%) of respondents found out about ScARF through colleagues or friends, which probably shows that ScARF is becoming well known as a resource but that more effort is required in directly marketing ScARF to a wider audience.
- The majority (53%) of respondents used the ScARF website less than once a month but almost a quarter (24%) used the resource once a month and 6% used the website at least once a week. This highlights the regular use of ScARF but also the importance of regular updates to the content as well as highlighting other available resources.
- The majority of respondents (54%) use the resource for meeting CPD requirements and for personal interest. Nearly half (46%) used it for Project Design and a third use the resource for Informing strategy and decision making. This again highlights the importance of keeping the resource current, to ensure projects are appropriately designed. It also highlights the need to emphasise more academic use of ScARF.
- Most people read specific sections of ScARF on the website, rather than read the entire report online or indeed download the pdf. It is important that new sections are clearly labelled, reports constructed in a manner that facilitates this use and publicised where appropriate and necessary.
- Most respondents (68%) trust the accuracy of the archaeological information “a lot”, 18% trust it “completely” and 14% trust it “a moderate amount”. There were no responses that trusted it “a little” or “not at all”. It is important that this trust is maintained into the future if the resource is to remain a true ‘heritage hub’. This has implications for future work on the panels as levels of expertise and knowledge will have to be seen to be maintained even if the individuals making up the panels changes over the years.
- Just 5% of respondents feel that their needs are met “extremely well”. There were 7% who felt that the resource did not meet their needs well. Future work should look to address these needs.
- Just 7% of respondents feel that the website is “extremely easy” to find information on. There were 8% who felt that it was “not so easy” to find information. There is a need to make sure information becomes and/or remains easy to find.
- Just 6% of respondents feel that the website is “extremely easy” to navigate. There were 7% who felt that it was “not so easy” to navigate the website. Although most respondents did not find navigation troublesome, it is something that should be kept under scrutiny as the amount of information on the site increases. It could easily become unwieldy.
- Searching within ScARF was frequently considered “tricky”, “cumbersome” and “difficult”. The search function needs to be improved.
- Nearly half (43%) of the survey respondents have never downloaded any of the additional files available through the ‘downloads’ page of each panel report and almost a third (30%) did not even know that they were available. Availability of additional data should be clearer from within the panel text.
- Most respondents viewed 4 to 6 pages per visit, which would seem appropriate if they are visiting the website for specific archaeological information. Aim to increase this and ensure the content remains relevant.
- Most respondents (40%) have not registered as a user on the ScARF website, and a further 31% did not know it was an option to do so. This should be promoted amongst the users who might have something to add. The issue of trust (discussed in the report) should be borne in mind.
- Most respondents (86%) have never left a comment on the website. 9% of respondents did not know that they could comment. It is vital for the addition of new archaeological content and debate that users know that they are able to register and make comments on the website and this should be made clearer in future work. The issue of trust (discussed in the report) should be borne in mind.
- The Directory of Archaeological Scientists is not used frequently, only 31% of respondents had looked at it since its launch. There were few comments to draw conclusions from but it appears as though people see the resource as more of a ‘sales pitch’ for individuals, perhaps because additions to the directory have no publications listed or peer review. Consider how best to quality control the Directory.
- Over £120,000 has been raised through funding bids using ScARF.
- 46% of respondents have cited ScARF in a publication, including academic research work.
- Over half of respondents plan on “definitely” using ScARF for work in the next three years and just under a third will “probably” use it. Those “somewhat unlikely” to use it for work account for just 6% (5 respondents). ScARF will continue to have a highly visible presence in Scottish archaeological work.
- Just under half of respondents plan on “definitely” using ScARF for their own interest or fun in the next three years and just over a third will “probably” use it. ScARF is therefore likely to continue to have a highly visible presence in the professional development of archaeologists as well as feature highly in peoples interests.
- Over half of respondents (56%) would “definitely” recommend ScARF to others and 40% would “probably” do so. Those “somewhat unlikely” recommend it account for 5% (4 respondents). These figures probably reflect the high regard that the content of ScARF is held in and efforts should be made to maintain this.
You can find out more about ScARF by visiting (https://www.socantscot.org/research-projects/scarf/ ) and you can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via our twitter account @ScARFHub.