Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Transparency of Authorship in CDLI

A further note on sources of CDLI data

At the end of February of this year, we posted to the Agade mailing list a notice on "CDLI's policy of open access, and of fair use of published images of cuneiform inscriptions." While we hope that all colleagues welcome a central online access point for quick cuneiform text reference, we have received a number of recommendations that we improve the transparency of the authorship of all contributions to the documentation of primary cuneiform sources in CDLI pages.

The data source information that we have been able to cull from our own records is now online. Take for instance the text BCT 2, 2. The initial section of this page, according to our presentation format, contains in the left column a list of common catalogue information, including publication, author, collection IDs, provenience and period, together with a link to a page with greater catalogue detail, but now, added in the right column, metadata tags concerning the original sources of data found here. The catalogue entry itself derives in the first instance from the upload of a legacy database of the CDLI project named "20011220ur3cat"; the entry thus was entered to CDLI's central database on 20 December 2001, using the database "ur3cat", itself ultimately in large part a derivative of an Ur III database maintained by Marcel Sigrist in the 1990's. The original electronic transliteration of BCT 2, 2, was prepared by the Leiden team of Remco de Maaijer and Bram Jagersma

The digital image of the original artifact was prepared by CDLI staff (in this case by Jacob Dahl in Birmingham, processed by Englund in Los Angeles) and is for the non-commercial use of any person, but is, as in the case of all images of original objects prepared by CDLI staff, subject to the commercial copyright of the institution where the text is housed, here the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Digital line art ("hand copies") of cuneiform artifacts, prepared by CDLI staff or other collaborating contributors, is, unless otherwise noted, to be credited to the primary publication author(s) cited in the first line of the catalogue section, thus in this case the published line art derives from the hand of Phil Watson. (Hand copies of earlier editors are as a rule stored as "line art detail".) Finally, we have initiated an automatic feed of transliteration revisions just below the transliteration found in the right column of the next section. The first "revision" of most current CDLI transliterations is credited to "cdlistaff" and represents simply their initial entry to our transliteration server.

We are hopeful that these steps will heighten the web presence of, and access to, collections, publications, and professional participation in cuneiform scholarship; we of course welcome corrections to the numerous errors and omissions that undoubtedly lurk in these new credit lines, and recommendations on how we might improve this process.

For the CDLI,
Robert K. Englund, UCLA
Jacob Dahl, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
Robert Casties, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

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