I found the IFA thread depressingly familiar. The discussion began with the usual 'What has the IFA done for us', followed on to 'Its done nothing for me (but I'm not a member)', to 'I'm not joining because its too expensive'. We then air 'the IFA trys to stop me getting a job because I'm not a member', re-visit 'why don't the IFA discipline sub-standard archaeologists' and we finally arrive at the anecdotal 'the worst archaeologists are not in it, and what are the IFA going to do about them!'. One of the purposes of the IFA is to set standards and to the promote them, not to check that the work in Worsetshire is up to standard. Curators can demand that contracting archaeologists adhere to those standards. Of course curators can send back reports that are sub-standard, but they need to act before then. Curators should monitor the archaeologists at work on PPG16 sites, complain to the IFA if members of IFA carry out substandard work, and copy the correspondence to the client. (At this point curators say 'If I monitored every site in Worsetshire then I'd have no time to check all those planning applications.) On pay and conditions the IFA (unfortunately I believe) has in its rules that it should not act as a Trade Union. They do however monitor job adverts, and any organisation paying less than IFA rates will be contacted, and probably named and shamed in the quarterly journal. I'm embarrased to admit that I speak from personal experience here. Principle 5 of the Code of Conduct says IFA archaeologists should respect the rights of their employees to training and development. The IFA has produced a large number of Technical Papers where you will find experts in their fields passing on specialist knowledge on for instance Human Remains or Remote sensing. The subsidised training courses stand out as incredible value for money, enabling members of the profession to keep up to date with the latest developments in pottery or lithics or project management. The local groups provide a venue for archaeologists to get together, socialise, decide on a research agenda for the archaeology of their area, and go down the pub for a good moan about...( the IFA probably). The special interest groups, such as the one on Finds, are drawing up standards for finds processing and reporting that might address some of the points raised elswhere on britarch. On subscriptions there have been some wild figures flying about. The sub is linked to salary. The sub for a Local Authority Scale 2 digger is £51, less than a fiver a month. You would only need to attend one subsidised training course to get your money back. If you spend time unemployed the lowest band is £12 a year. Specialist staff or site supervisors would pay say £2 a week. To all those people who say they cannot afford it: perhaps if you did join the IFA employers would take your applications more seriously, as coming from someone who agrees to abide by recognised professional standards, and perhaps your employment and pay prospects would improve. To those who say the IFA should do something about the poor standards in the profession: for IFA members the mechanisms are there, it is up to people to complain about it to the IFA. I have taken part in disciplinary investigations, and they grind slowly but thoroughly. The poor standards outside the IFA membership? Curators could advise clients to use IFA members, or ask all contractors, not just IFA ones, to abide by the IFA Standards (it's done in at least one local Authority). But then someone complained that the IFA trys to stop them getting employment! You cannot have it both ways! To those who refuse to join any organisation that would have them, fair enough, but there will always be clients and employers who might not contact you because they looked in the IFA yearbook to find a professional archaeologist who subscribed to a recognised code of conduct and was a member of a professional body. IFA member 293.