Openness, access and use

Postgraduate students examining archives

Postgraduate archival skills workshop

We are committed to making our collections widely accessible. With increasing volumes of digital records and changing user expectations, we will find innovative ways to present our collections and engage more people with them.

Potential research questions

  • How can archive services design and present online access systems to meet the changing needs and expectations of users?
  • How can new techniques such as visualisation and data mining deliver new insights into our records for our users?
  • How can we create new discovery and navigation routes into our collections and how does this tie into questions of representation, privilege and power?
  • How can we move archival practice forward to encompass pluralism?
  • As born-digital records and datasets become more commonplace in archive collections, how will the skills of the researcher and the archivist need to evolve?
  • What new processes, methods and tools can we develop to ensure digital records remain accessible over time?
  • What participation, learning and engagement opportunities can we offer around our collections to reach new audiences?

Core research challenges

Enhancing representation and diversity in the archive

We aim to highlight the range of individuals and communities represented in our records, and to encourage more people to use them in different ways. Archives, like many cultural organisations, are striving to reach and represent more diverse communities. In our research, we will explore the make-up of the archives workforce and the audiences we engage with to embrace a pluralistic vision for the sector.

Developing research skills and tools for access

We need to be able to understand the current and future skillsets of our researchers. This understanding will influence the way we design our data delivery systems, research tools and research services. New approaches to service delivery will require new research tools: for instance, the provision of archival material as aggregated data will require new kinds of tools for quantitative analysis and the manipulation of data at scale.

New ways of presenting digital records

We will do research to underpin our new presentation system for digital records. There are many challenges surrounding the presentation of digital records, from how to present multiple versions of records to providing adequate pointers for closed or redacted versions. Our research will help us understand how to present digital records appropriately and securely within legal, commercial and technical constraints, as well as incorporating user requirements.

Associated projects

Big Data for Law
Traces through Time

Contact us

Contact us if you would like to work with us to explore any of the research questions or challenges above.