4D Research Lab principles statement v.1

Tijm Lanjouw, Jitte Waagen

February 2020

Function of 3D models

“A 3D model or visualisation is both a research tool and a communication tool”

We distinguish between process oriented and outcome oriented 3D models. In the former the process of 3D modelling is used as a visual research tool, intended to answer specific research questions and stimulating better insights regarding aspects such as manufacture, structural properties, visual properties, material or social context of use. The latter refers to the use of 3D models as a medium for dissemination of research or opening up cultural heritage data resources. 3D visualisations are used to communicate the results of a process to either an academic or a lay audience, and/or give access to documented data.

Academic rigour

“A published 3D model is to be held to standards generally accepted by the academic community”

Our models strive to live up to the standards set out in the generally accepted principle documents: “The London Charter for the computer-based visualization of cultural heritage” and the “Principles of Seville, international principles of virtual archaeology”. The central tenet of these is that a model must in all cases be verifiable, that all the steps should therefore be reported on, the reasoning should be coherent and transparent, and sources should be critically assessed and cited. In order to ensure the highest quality of work, each 4D Research Lab project is planned with the following criteria in mind:

  • All choices and steps made during the process of modelling are kept in a journal, and reported on in a final report. The report is written using the ‘project report and setup template’ (see associated document).
  • Sufficient knowledge regarding original manufacture, construction methods, typological ranges, material properties, social and cultural context should be acquired.
  • Interdisciplinarity: ensure regular and fluid exchange of ideas and views between a number of specialists.
  • The model should be build up ‘bottom up’, e.g. starting with the documented material evidence, rather than starting with a general theory which is projected on the data.
  • All sources should be properly referenced, following regular academic practice for written works. These should be included at least as metadata and paradata (see ‘project report and setup template’) but preferably integrated in the model.

As most models are the result of interpretative choices, we strive to visualize these as ‘degrees of certainty’. We realise that not all projects request a product that includes all these criteria. We commit to inform our academic collaborators about the importance and advantages of working according to these criteria.

  • At least, the distinction between actual registration and reconstruction should be made clear.
  • Preferably, the level of certainty should be recorded according to our 6 gradations scale (for definitions see ‘degrees of certainty’).
  • Potential variations or alternative reconstructions should be included.

Accessibility and sustainability

“A 3D model should be made accessible to a large audience and stored in a future-proof way”

We are continuously looking for ways to make (online) accessible certain 3D projects respecting open source/open information principles, and aiming for a manner of long-term storage, adhering to standards of open access file formats, that promises the best perspectives in view of sustainability.