FISH, the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage Terms of Reference

Published: August 01, 2001 Updated: October 20, 2023

1. Objectives

The forum will work to co-ordinate, develop, maintain and promote standards for the recording of heritage information.

2. Scope

  • The forum will produce, review, maintain and update data content standards, metadata standards and indexing or terminology standards for those working in heritage where it is essential that information created, gathered and/or curated is in a retrievable, reusable and interoperable form.
  • The forum will aim to promote best practice and share experience in the application of information standards.
  • The sphere of heritage that the forum will focus on is the 'historic environment' taken to mean the built and buried heritage, historic areas and landscapes, marine archaeology and related information requirements.
  • The forum will promote and seek involvement in future development of existing data standards, both national and international, of parallel or overlapping spheres of interest and will sign post these in their own products.
  • The activities in the heritage sector relevant to the work of the forum will include:-
    • data capture and recording practice,
    • recording system design,
    • archiving of digital data,
    • promoting access to information,
    • re-use of digital archives.

3. Composition

The forum will consist of a core membership of representatives from heritage organisations and related interests, plus a wider forum which will serve to link together the community of interests in heritage information standards. The forum will not have a separate legal status.

Core membership

Core members will be invited to choose 'Attending' or 'Corresponding' membership status, as set out below. Members will be able to review and alter their status as needed:-

Attending members

Attending members will represent organisations who are actively involved in developing and promoting data standards. Attending members will be expected to attend all face-to-face meetings, will be consulted in planning dates and venues for meetings, and will be invited to submit agenda items. Active member status will imply a commitment of time to the work of the forum, but should also be regarded as a source of professional development.

Corresponding members

Corresponding member status is appropriate for individuals and organisation that wish to keep in touch with the work of the forum, but who are not available to attend all face-to-face meetings. Corresponding members are not, unless specifically requested, consulted on dates and venues of meetings, but are invited to submit agenda items, and have a standing invitation to attend meetings if an issue they are keen to discuss is on the agenda.

List members

Forum discussion list membership is open to anyone with an interest in heritage data standards and their application. List members will receive news about forum activities, they may ask questions of the forum and can participate in discussion and e-conferences. They may also view and download files from the forum archive. List members are routinely invited to participate in peer review of new standards products from the forum.

All core members of the forum are strongly encouraged to participate as list members, to share their expertise and experience.

Forum Convenor and Co-ordinator

Two attending members nominated and agreed by the attending members will serve as Convenor - to run meetings and act as a formal representative of the forum, and Co-ordinator - to arrange the effective dissemination of information, to maintain membership lists, to organise meetings, and to draft agendas and minutes. These roles will rotate between core members on a biannual basis.

4. Activities

Core members will contribute to the work of the forum in the following ways.

  • Face-to-face meeting : There will be two meetings of the attending forum members per year. In addition the forum may establish sub-groups which will determine their own requirement for meetings. Corresponding members are welcome to attend any face-to-face meeting, but will not be included in planning dates and venues of meetings unless they request this specifically.
  • Maintenance of existing standards: Core members will contribute to work to maintain existing standards, including consideration of candidate terms, and to review existing standards on a rolling basis to identify necessary revisions.
  • Make available existing standards: Core members will be expected to make available existing terminology and data content standards for consideration by the forum. Where appropriate they may be asked to act, on behalf of their organisation, as nominated owners of particular standards, in particular terminology standards in the INSCRIPTION standard.
  • Develop new standards: Core members will identify new requirements for standardisation of heritage information, and participate in the creation or development of new data standards to meet developing heritage sector information requirements. Core members will automatically be included in peer review of draft materials prepared by forum members.
  • Mapping of existing standards: Core members will forge links with groups working on related standards issues, and map related standards to the products of the forum.
  • Participation in discussion: Core members will contribute comment and longer papers to email discussions of the forum.
  • Communication and promotion: Core members will contribute to web site maintenance through the provision of materials. Core members will promote national standards within member organisations. Core members will contribute to a publication and dissemination strategy for standards.
  • Representing FISH: Core members will represent FISH at meetings with related organisations and initiatives as appropriate, and report back to the forum.

5. Communication

  • Agendas: Agendas will be drafted by the Forum Co-ordinator and approved by the Forum Convenor. Invitation to contribute agenda items will be sent to all core members three weeks before the date of meetings. Finalised agendas for face-to-face meetings will be circulated at least one week prior to meetings. Papers supporting agenda items will be supplied by this deadline.
  • Minutes: Minutes of face-to-face meetings will be drafted by the Forum Co-ordinator, and will be approved by the Forum Convenor. Minutes will be circulated to the core membership and placed in the forum discussion list archive no more than three weeks after each face-to-face meeting.
  • Forum discussion list: An email discussion list with unrestricted membership will be maintained by the forum as the responsibility of one or more attending members. This will provide at least the following as archived documents available to all list members: Terms of reference; current list of core members, including Forum Convenor and Co-ordinator; approved minutes of forum meetings.
  • Forum web site: A web site will also be maintained as the responsibility of one or more core members, to support the effective communication of standards and information about the work of the forum.

Drafted by Edmund Lee, Forum Co-ordinator Approved by the Forum attending membership August 1st 2001

Current partners