12 October 2011

Writing a Geophysics Report

Compared to excavation reports, geophysics reports are really quite simple, and fairly quick to write. If you were to look at standard grey literature geophysics reports, it may seem otherwise, for two reasons. Firstly, commercial units like to pad out reports with unnecessary waffle, to make the customer feel like they are getting their money's worth. Much of this will be copied and pasted between reports with little alteration. Secondly, geophysics reports may also include a wider desk-based evaluation of the surrounding area as part of the contracted work, which may not be necessary otherwise. So what is the minimum required of a geophysics report? Here are a few things to include :

  1. A bit of background about what is already known about the archaeology of the site, and why the survey is being undertaken.
  2. A short statement about the equipment used and how it is being used.
  3. Notes on the positioning of the survey grids, in such a form that those grids can be re-established by someone else.
  4. A plot of the results.
  5. Interpretation of those results.
After you have finished your report, what do you do with it? Giving a copy to the landowner is always a nice thing to do, as well as the county archaeologist (if you are in the UK) or equivalent in your country. There are several options if you want to publish your results in some way. Local archaeological societies will be quite happy to publish surveys in their area in their newsletter or journal. Some of the larger county or national journal may not be interested in pure geophysics in their own right, and will probably charge you for the privilege if they do. The other option is to publish on-line. I use a site called scribd, which allows sharing of documents on the web for anyone to download. You can see a list of my already uploaded reports here, which will give you some examples of geophysics reports if you intend to write one yourself.

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