Seeking a common ground for the Nautical Archaeology Digital Library (NADL). Reflections on science, method, theory and templates

Ricardo Borrero L., Patricia Schwindingera, Ana Castelli, Nicolas C. Ciarlo, Rodrigo Torres, Martijn Manders, Filipe Castro, Richard Furuta


Data sharing is a fundamental process for the advancement of both natural and social sciences. Starting from the idea that computers and the internet have drastically changed the world in the last decades, this paper advocates for the creation of a space where archaeologists from around the world can share information about maritime history and exchange data with colleagues. Following the principles of open access, we argue that raw data publication is necessary and significant for the development and democratization of the discipline. This study explains the fundamental aspects of the Nautical Archaeology Digital Library (NADL) and its efforts to standardize information collection for shipwrecks and related sites, so that scholars can create a community to disseminate both raw data and complete information in the field of maritime archaeology. To achieve this, our purpose is to facilitate the development of common-ground methodology and terminology that promotes an intelligible dialogue within the global community of nautical archaeologists. This paper addresses some considerations on terminology and systematization in scientific disciplines and discusses the theoretical and methodological issues linked to the process of making a template for recording shipwrecks. Furthermore, this article analyses some of the problems related to the standardization of description processes and the necessity to create a flexible system that accounts for data diversity. The third section discusses how science is greatly enhanced by publishing information in open access platforms.


  • Standardization of data allows robust comparative and inter-subjective analysis of coastal and maritime projects, shipwrecks and nautical technology.

  • Research is strongly benefited by sharing information underlying publications and raw data generated within a project in open source platforms.

  • Digital databases such as NADL enhance cooperative research, as well as teaching and outreach strategies.


standardization; primary data; open-source publication; nautical archaeology; maritime archaeology; digital archaeology

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