Regular readers of this blog will have seen Ruth Roberts’ post last week about The National Archives’ research strategy. One current research priority is to find out more about The National Archives’ users, particularly in online contexts.
I am one of the research students currently being sponsored by The National Archives, and I’m hoping that you can help me out with this work.
My research focuses on participatory culture in archives, specifically on the kinds of online contribution initiatives we’ve seen piloted by The National Archives over the last four or five years: wikis, social tagging and commenting, and collaborative online volunteering or ‘crowdsourcing’. If you are a user of The National Archives’ website (whether or not you visit The National Archives in person) and have an opinion about participatory archives, I’d be pleased to hear from you.
The research will be carried out in two parts. The first is a very brief online survey. It would really help me if readers of this blog and visitors to The National Archives’ website could fill this in. There are just 7 simple tick box or yes/no questions, plus a couple of opportunities for you to submit comments. It should take you no more than a couple of minutes to complete.
You can complete the survey anonymously, but it also asks you to leave your name and a contact email address if you would be willing to take part in a follow-up interview.
Interview participants will be selected from those who complete the survey and who agree to be interviewed. The interview will take place either by telephone (or Skype), at a mutually agreed time, or in person at The National Archives. It should take around half an hour to an hour at most. I will discuss how the interview will be recorded, analysed, and used with potential participants before the interview takes place, but you would be free to withdraw from the research at any point, should you wish to do so.
I’d be particularly interested to hear from:
- Research users of The National Archives who carry out all or most of their research online. Perhaps you live a long way from London and use the DocumentsOnline service extensively? Or maybe you’re an occasional visitor to Kew but carry out extensive background research using The National Archives’ online records guidance in order to make the most of the rare opportunities you get to visit The National Archives in person?
- Research users of The National Archives who have discovered archives useful to their work via the contributions of other users. Perhaps you have stumbled across a reference to some really useful archives on Your Archives or even Wikipedia? Maybe you’ve used an index compiled by a volunteer transcription project (in print or on a website)?
- People who have contributed their knowledge or skills in order to enhance the accessibility of archives online. Maybe you’ve volunteered on an indexing or transcription project online, or contributed in the past to Your Archives? Or perhaps you’ve got your own website where you make information about archives available? You might have commented on The National Archives’ flickr photostream or possibly at some point you’ve noticed a gap or a mistake on The National Archives’ catalogue and reported the error.
Where can I find out more?
You can learn more about me and the research questions that I am exploring on my UCL webpage. If you have any questions, you can either leave them in the comments to this post or email me at alexandra DOT eveleigh DOT 09 AT ucl DOT ac DOT uk, or contact me via @ammeveleigh on twitter.
Thank you! I am really looking forward to reading your responses and speaking to some of The National Archives’ online visitors.