The big questions…

As you’ve probably picked up from the themes of the blogs over the last few weeks, the work of The National Archives is extremely varied. In the Research Team we are keen to support new thinking across a range of topics from history and conservation to new technologies and digital preservation.

The Research Team consists of two people – myself and the Head of Research, Dr Valerie Johnson. In autumn last year Valerie and I started thinking about the organisation’s research strategy for 2012/13.  We decided to ask the Executive Team’s help in shaping some strategic research priorities to feed into our new strategy. With no constraints or instructions from the Research Team, the Directors were asked to simply come up with the four key questions that they wanted answered within the year. The kind of questions that were keeping them awake at night. They came up with the following:

  • What is the nature of the digital archival record?
  • How has digital changed the needs, expectations and nature of research and user behaviour?
  • How can we develop and exploit digital information extraction tools to help support digital selection and digital sensitivity review?
  • Can we develop Open Data models to provide better-quality, authentic and trusted data for use and re-use?

So, interestingly – as you can see, they are all about the shift to a new digital world.  Valerie and I are now in the process of finding appropriate funders and setting up research projects to get these questions answered. We are actively looking for academic partners to work with so, if you’re interested in any of the above priorities, please do get in touch.

Obviously, The National Archives gets involved in wider research too. To help clarify what’s important to us at the moment, and to facilitate academic collaboration, we’ve produced a set of organisational research priorities and historical research priorities.

If you’re interested in working with us on any of our priorities please email research@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk and we can talk about your proposal in more detail before taking it to the Grants Panel for approval here at The National Archives (which I will tell you all about in my next blog).

Thanks to this new blog, I’ll be able to keep you updated on all of the research and academic liaison work at The National Archives, as well as the Grants Panel and grants successes I’ll write about our Collaborative Doctoral Award students, digitisation and cataloguing projects, staff publications, conferences and seminars and more besides…

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