We are fundamentally interested in the nature of records, both physical and digital. Our research explores how records and recordkeeping are evolving in the digital age, and how we can best carry out our responsibilities towards the records we hold.
Potential research questions
- How can we utilise emergent technologies to improve our recordkeeping practice?
- How are the roles and responsibilities of recordkeeping institutions evolving alongside technologies such as machine learning, and what are the ethical implications of this?
- How can we most successfully build digital capacity and resilience in the archive sector?
- What new insights emerge from drawing together methods from conservation science, history and archival science to analyse the materiality of the record?
- How are the current legal frameworks adapting to the complex nature of the digital record?
Core research challenges
Records as data
We are looking for ways to unlock the content of physical records by making them available as aggregated datasets. With archives stretching over 1,000 years in a variety of tangible formats, new computational techniques will enable us to work with our records in new ways and trace patterns within and across our collections.
Managing complex digital records
We need to conduct research into preserving and providing access to new formats, as many of the records transferred to us from government are now born-digital and come in a variety of formats, from high definition video to executable code. The uncertain and unbounded nature of new forms of records, such as those derived from machine learning systems, is causing us to rethink how we preserve evidence of these systems, and what is the ‘public record’ that we are preserving.
Digital recordkeeping at scale
We would like to explore how techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing can help us to deal with an increasing influx of digital records in the future. Whilst archivists have traditionally used painstaking manual processes for tasks such as selection and sensitivity review, this approach is unsustainable for large volumes of digital records with little structure. Digital recordkeeping at scale requires us to rethink our practices, and embrace emerging technologies and computational methods.
ARCHANGEL – Trusted archives of digital public records
Contact us if you would like to work with us to explore any of the research questions or challenges above.