© 2019 by Paul Szpak. 

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CORE VALUES

Presentism and Community

“You have to go to work. Let’s all just go to work. If you go to work you’re going to have more success.” Mike Babcock, Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Being present is an important part of the culture of the laboratory group and is a crucial part of the intellectual climate that we have developed. Open lines of communication within the group are extremely important and we meet every week to discuss current research in the discipline as well as progress of individual members on their respective research projects.

 

A Commitment to First Principles

Ultimately, our goals are to better understand how humans interacted with the natural world in the past through the application of scientific techniques. To know how to make sense of the archaeological record, however, we often need to establish a series of expectations based on modern experimental or controlled studies. For example, we cannot assess the extent to which people in the past used fertilizers to increase their crop yields if we do not first understand how fertilization influences the chemical (isotopic) composition of crops. We believe that, as archaeological scientists, we should take an active role in understanding how various processes work in the modern environment in order to interpret the archaeological record.

 

Fully Integrated Training for Students

It is important for members of the lab group to go beyond being consumers of data produced by others. For those of us working with stable isotope data, for example, this means that all students receive training in all aspects of the methodology: sample preparation, instrument operation, data processing, and evaluation of quality control and quality assurance measures. We believe that it is imperative for archaeological scientists to have a firm understanding of all aspects of how their data were created so that they can better understand the limitations of those data. In this lab group you will not wait for a technician to email you your results, you will produce them yourself.

 

Quality Control, Quality Assurance, and Transparency

Archaeological science often involves the generation of quantitative data. We believe that it is essential that we clearly convey the amount of uncertainty associated with the measurements that we report. This belief does not simply manifest itself in a top-down fashion; an important part of being a member of the lab is learning how we monitor and quantify analytical uncertainty. In our view, a cardinal sin of science is the hoarding of data and the failure to disclose the results of research (especially publicly funded research) in publications. We are therefore committed to providing free and open access to the results of our research wherever possible.

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Knowledge Dissemination

The research that we do is of no use unless it is effectively disseminated to the appropriate end users. This means that there is an expectation that members of the lab make efforts to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and present that research at national and international conferences with guidance from the principal investigator and senior lab members.