Report Guidelines for Negative Findings Reports


For investigations such as Phase I or monitoring projects that do not identify archaeological sites or standing structures within a project area, investigators can provide a more abbreviated report. 

  • The Division of Archaeology will review all negative finding reports submitted to the Division.
  • The Division expects all investigators to present professional quality draft reports.  Once the Division has reviewed the draft report, the comment letter will identify items that must be addressed in order for the report to be finalized, and those items that are suggestions for improving the final report.  After the comments are addressed, a revised draft or final report should be submitted in a timely fashion.
  • Investigators submitting reports to the Division must provide two bound copies of all reports.  For final reports, investigators must also provide an electronic copy of the report in “pdf” format.  At least one paper copy of appendix materials must be submitted with a final report.  The DOA is requesting, if possible, that a GIS shapefile (.shp) and all accompanying data files (e.g., .sbn, .dbf, .prj, .sbx, and .shx) be submitted for project area boundaries in negative finding reports.  This information can be obtained by the use of hand held Global Position System (GPS) receivers. Currently, all the SHPO GIS data is projected in NAD_1983_UTM_Zone_15N.

Front Matter

  • Report Cover - Include the title of the report (with the phrase Negative Findings included), the lead federal or state agency (if applicable), the contractor performing the work, the word "Draft" or “Final”, and the date of the report.
  • Title page - Include the title of the report (with the phrase Negative Findings included), the author(s), the date written (month and year), the contracting firm and the lead federal or state agency with their addresses, and phone numbers, and the agency contract/permit number where applicable.
  • Abstract - One page maximum.  Include a brief summary of the project (e.g., Phase I, Monitoring) and project area, its size (acres/hectares), and the parish or parishes where the work was done.
  • Table of Contents - Headings should duplicate verbatim those found in the text.  The Table of Contents should use leader tabs (e.g.,……..) between headings page numbers.  All appendix materials should be listed in the Table of Contents as well.
  • List of Figures - Duplicate verbatim the first sentence of the captions of each figure in the text.  The List of Figures should use leader tabs between the figure caption and page number.
  • List of Tables - Duplicate verbatim the title of each table in the text.  The List of Table should use leader tabs between the table title and page number.
  • Preface or Acknowledgments - Include the names of the Principal Investigator and other archaeological personnel, and the funding and/or sponsoring agency.  If the contractor firm is listed as the author, describe here the individual authors and their relative contributions.
  • Pagination - The pagination for the front matter must be in lower case Roman numerals.

Report Body (In Chapter Format)

  • Pagination - The pages for all final reports must be consecutively numbered in Arabic numerals.  Pagination by chapter numbers (e.g., 1-2, 3-5, 7-35 etc.) is acceptable for draft reports.
  • Introduction - Outline the scope of work, area of potential effect (APE), project description, general description of the project’s history, agency(s) involved, project setting and boundaries, purpose of the archaeological investigations, etc. List the staff and dates of investigation. Provide a detail of a 7.5’ USGS topographic quadrangle map showing the location of the area being investigated with a state inset map showing the project location within the state of Louisiana.  All maps should include a scale, north arrow, and legend. Briefly summarize the results of the archaeology and the investigator's recommendations for further work.  Wherever applicable, provide a legal description of the project area that includes Township, Range, and Section.  Also, provide a synopsis of the report organization.
  • Environmental Setting - Limit the discussion to the geomorphology, soils, and other ecological information relevant to the development of the research design and/or the understanding of the project area.  Do not include an extended discussion of environmental features unless it is relevant to the discussion and interpretation of the negative findings.
  • Previous Investigations (archaeological, historical and/or architectural where applicable) - This section should place the current project within the context of previous investigations, including the locations of sites and standing structures, appropriate methodology, results, interpretations, and significant research questions previous investigators have raised in and around a project area. Relative to these subjects, all reports of surveys, site forms, and standing structure forms within one mile of the project area must be reviewed and summarized for Phase I survey reports. For extended linear project areas such as pipelines, highway rights-of-way etc. investigators may consider all sites, structures, and previous projects within one half (0.5) miles of the project’s APE. This information about surrounding sites may be presented in tabular form, but must include, at a minimum. site or structure number, name (if any), and eligibility for the National Register.

Archaeological Investigation

Archaeological Field Methods – Describe the fieldwork strategy(s) used during this project, including a thorough description of the field methods and the rationale for their use.  The Division requires investigators in Louisiana to use the field standards for Phase I or Monitoring investigations. If investigators encounter conditions that result in deviations from those standards, this must be explained in the report.  Please include in an report appendix any correspondence between the investigators, agencies, and the Division concerning deviations from the standards.

Describe the definition of high and low probability areas and the resulting spacing of transects and shovel tests.  Provide a map showing the distribution of high and low probability areas within a project area.  Describe subsurface techniques (e.g., shovel tests, soil probes, augers etc.) and the criteria for their use among portions of the project area.  Describe shovel test size and depths, stratigraphic controls, how the location was recorded, and state if the material was screened or hand troweled.  Describe the location and spacing of transects and shovel tests.  If surveys are for extensive areas, soil profiles may be too numerous to include in the Results section of the report. Describe the criteria used to select representative soil profiles for each survey area or site (e.g., average, modal, or range of depths of soil horizons).

Depict the locations of pedestrian transects and, when possible, shovel tests on a project area map.  Ideally, open circles depict negative shovel tests and filled circles depict shovel tests positive for cultural deposits.  All color maps must be legible and understandable when copied in black and white.

Describe any surface survey techniques and any differences in strategies employed among probability zones, and areas of variable visibility.

For monitoring projects with negative findings, describe the reason(s) for the use of archaeological monitoring in a project area instead of other methodologies.  Include a map of the area investigated, showing topographical features, existing cultural features (e.g., structures, roads, ditches), and the locations of all areas where monitoring occurred.  Also, provide a representative profile of any excavations that resulted from a monitoring project.

Results - State succinctly that the execution of the Phase I survey or Archaeological Monitoring found no cultural resources and that no further investigation is necessary. Provide a brief discussion of the possible reasons for the absence of sites (e.g., previously reported sites have been destroyed; setting not conducive to human occupation). If the monitoring occurred because of a previously reported archaeological site, submit a site form update reporting that the site was not relocated or was destroyed.

  • Curation - Statute 36CFR79 regarding federal funded projects or projects on federal land states that associated records for all projects must be curated with a recognized federal or state facility.  Likewise, all projects in Louisiana that require a state permit must curate associated records in a recognized state facility. 

A list of references cited should follow the summary chapter of the report.  The format for these citations should also follow the SAA format.  The citations of other CRM reports, whether for projects in Louisiana or other states, should also follow SAA format, but also include information about the agency or company for whom the project was done.  Also, include the name of the cultural resources contractor or individual that conducted the investigation, and the Division report number if applicable.

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