Research publications

Colleagues at The National Archives are busy people! Not only are they working hard to select, preserve and make accessible the public record, they’re also carrying out research and publishing it.

Our business plan sets out our core functions but it’s research that underpins everything we do. Research is essential to ensure that we are moving in the right direction and constantly improving and innovating.

Previous blogs have outlined the many different types of research we get involved in. Disseminating research findings can be done in different ways; nowadays websites, twitter feeds, blogs, the media and even Youtube are all used to publicise research. However, staff at The National Archives are dedicated to publicising via the more traditional academic routes too:

  • books
  • book chapters
  • essays or articles in books
  • journal articles
  • published lectures
  • Conference papers
  • reviews
  • electronic publications

In 2009, to celebrate and recognise the research that colleagues do, we decided to launch The National Archives Research Prize. The Prize is in recognition of the most outstanding peer-reviewed article or book chapter written by a member of staff.

Because The National Archives is a leader across a wide range of fields, it was decided to have two categories for the Prize: interpretative research (into the records); and applied research (solving a ‘how-to’ problem, such as assessing the reaction of materials to different environmental conditions, or how to appraise digital records). The breadth of work we do at The National Archives can be seen from entrants for last year’s prize, which covers research on a breathtaking array of subjects, from Medieval history to environmental conditions, and from digitisation to Parents and Children in Second World War Germany: An Inter generational Perspective on Wartime Separation.

Last year’s winners were James Ross (interpretative category) and Kostas Ntanos (applied category) for the following publications:

J Ross, ‘The de Vere Family and the House of York, c.1440-1485’ in Richard III and East Anglia, ed. L. Visser-Fuchs (2010), pp. 47-66.

K Ntanos et al, ‘Volatile aldehydes in libraries and archives’, Atmospheric Environment, vol 44, issue 17, June 2010

James and Kostas were presented their prizes by the members of the Lord Chancellor’s Forum on Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research.

We’re currently organising this year’s Prize which will be for publications from 2011.  We have a panel of three external judges in place and will be announcing the opening for entries in the next few days. I’ll reveal the winners in a future blog.


  1. Cedric Alan Pearce says:

    Why is it that there is nothing new on transport – wether it be land, sea, or air?
    Many of us, seroius reasearchers that is, are are not the slightest bit interested in the bloody Olympics, past, present or future!
    When visiting the NA, it is hells own job to get my inquiries answered on rail topics, because everyone is hell bent on wanting to discuss subjects like travel arrangements, hold ups, road, rail and whatever! It is very much like Christmas,
    everything comes to a standstill and heads are filled with this Olympic rubbish!!

  2. David Matthew says:

    Whilst there are a number of areas like transport, the Second World War and economics that could do with a new publication I think researchers need to be aware that their own interests are not necesssarily everyone else’s and perhaps researchers would like to write such a book or article?, why should TNA write it at a time of cuts?. TNA staff may not have the experience of all of the records to have the confidence or time to write the book/article. As for the Olympics not being everybody’s cup of tea it is important to most people in the London area and the UK, although I would have added more to TNA’s website and it is part of history and that is what TNA is about.

    I have found TNA staff helpful and I am sure would be able to help with railways research but there may be only a few knowledgeable people who are ‘experts’. In addition the catalogue (not Discovery!) is good and you could find most things without the need to ask a member of staff.

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