Collaborative projects set to unlock major potential

Collaborative research

Collaborative research at The National Archives

New postgraduate studentships announced

We are delighted that a further three Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) projects will start at The National Archives this October.  CDPs were formed by the AHRC in 2012 to increase the research capacity of major cultural heritage institutions such as The National Archives, allowing us to collaborate with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to offer full, three-year PhD studentships.

Last autumn we put out a call to the higher education sector for research project proposals based on our research agenda, and received a fantastic response.  Proposals of the highest quality were received from academics based in universities right across England and Scotland, in subjects ranging from heritage science and history through to digital preservation and chronographics.  Following an extremely competitive internal review process, successful proposals were submitted to the Thames Consortium Review Panel, who awarded us three CDP studentships.

The successful projects are:

  • ‘Just in time – creating visualisations of historic time to integrate data across multiple datasets’ – to be jointly supervised by Dr Sonia Ranade of The National Archives and Dr Stephen Boyd Davis of the Royal College of Art.
  • ‘Popular radicalism in the age of reform: government and locality, 1783-1832’ – to be jointly supervised by Dr Paul Carter of The National Archives, Dr Katrina Navickas of Hertfordshire University and Dr Robert Pool of UCLAN.
  • ‘Women in Chancery: an analysis of the role of Chancery as a women’s court of redress in late-17th Century England’ – to be jointly supervised by Dr Amanda Bevan of The National Archives and Dr Amanda Capern of Hull University.

Impactful research

These projects very much fit with the principle and imperative that research at The National Archives should have a purpose, a role and an impact.  The research we support and undertake aims at underpinning our core roles and objectives, and plays an important part in helping us fulfil our business priorities – providing the knowledge, ideas, tools and expertise to be translated into innovative practice and delivery.  Whilst providing fantastic opportunities for the successful student candidates, the CDP projects will play a critical role in opening up our collections to new audiences and will demonstrate a continuation of our strong track record of responding positively and creatively to technological developments.

The cultural heritage contribution

The CDP scheme is providing exciting new opportunities for major national cultural organisations – archives, libraries, museums, galleries and heritage bodies – to work together closely in constructive, creative and collaborative ways.  Both collectively and individually, we are demonstrating our leadership in collections-based research training (which is offered to all CDP students) and are solidifying our position as integral research centres in our own right, with the capacity and capability to make major contributions towards research agendas across multiple academic subject fields.

Shaping a mutually-beneficial research landscape

The scheme is also developing links and connections between the cultural heritage and higher education sectors which can deliver long-term benefits for both partners.  The CDP scheme forms part of a raft of partnerships, collaborative ventures and knowledge exchange initiatives through which academics are increasingly demonstrating what they have to offer to institutions such as The National Archives: contributing towards the expertise, research, innovation and ideas which underpin the delivery of business priorities.  This growing culture of collaboration and partnership between the higher education and cultural heritage sectors is increasingly leading to personnel from both sides forming part of a compatible and mutually-beneficial research environment.

Securing cross-sector synergy for the future

The collaborative nature of the projects also offers fantastic career development opportunities for the successful student candidates, who benefit from the support, guidance, training and expertise of supervisors in both university and cultural heritage institutions.  CDP students have the opportunity to carve out successful career paths which straddle both the cultural heritage and higher education sectors, and will play an important role in shaping the relationship between both sides over the forthcoming decades.  Cultural heritage organisations such as The National Archives provide fantastic platforms through which to deliver impact, outreach, educational and public engagement initiatives (all important in the culture of the Research Excellence Framework) which are available for the students to exploit during the course of their projects and beyond.  The current cohort of CDP students have already begun to feed their research expertise into cataloging and research guidance initiatives, exhibitions, public talks and symposia and conferences.

Information on how to apply for all of the CDP studentships currently on offer, across the cultural heritage organisations, can be found via the CDP website.

The successful candidates will be joining a growing group of CDP students already working at The National Archives, such as Hannah Worthen of Leicester University, who started her project last October, and is currently researching the experiences of war widows and orphans during the 1640s and 1650s.

We are expecting great things from our CDP students and see huge potential for them to play a decisive role in determining the future shape of the research, academic and cultural heritage landscape.  Watch this space!

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