Assessment process

Assessing innovation

The assessment for the Archives Testbed Fund is focused on establishing whether the idea described by the applicant is innovative, has a robust testing/exploration proposal, and whether the change it will enable has a significant impact on the archive service and the wider sector.

Assessing innovation can be challenging as the concept of ‘innovation’ tends to have a broad definition. For this programme, the Archives Testbed Fund defines innovation as:

Reflecting new ideas, fresh perspectives, or new/improved ways of approaching a problem that will lead to positive change and a significant impact on the sector, resulting in archives being better managed, accessed and used.

Applications in all rounds, including themed rounds, are assessed based on the level of innovation and the predicted impact of the idea on the archive sector and the individual archive service. Applications are assessed on the archive’s responses to the questions in the application form.

Assessment panel

We have recruited a pool of potential panel members from different departments across The National Archives. A panel for each assessment is formed based on the type and subject matter of the applications received to ensure applications can be assessed by those with relevant skills and expertise.

The panels are chaired by the programme administrator James Hodgson. The administrator is not permitted to contribute to assessment discussions, other than to facilitate the process, or to score and assess applications.

A conflict of interest register will be completed before each round of assessments. In the case of a conflict of interest, that panel member will be asked to absent themselves from the relevant discussion and will be asked not to score the application. Instead, the other panel members’ scores will be averaged to compensate.

Funding decisions

By the end of an assessment meeting, the panel will have agreed which projects should be funded in each round according to available resources, and which projects should be retained on a reserve list as similarly strong projects with the potential for funding if additional resources become available in the same financial year. If extra funding does become available and the panel wish to consider the reserve list alongside the ongoing rounds of applications, an additional panel meeting will be called to consider the allocation of the additional resource.

Outcomes and evaluation

Our aim for the Archives Testbed Fund is for archive services to be able to develop and test ideas, produce a learning outcome, and share this with the sector, which may then lead to the development of new ideas and future projects. Successful applicants are therefore asked to complete short reporting and monitoring forms demonstrating the outcomes and learning experiences gained from undertaking the funded project. Thematic rounds may involve further monitoring.

You will be encouraged to share your learning outcomes and experiences with the rest of the archive sector. We may organise events and activities to promote the programme and celebrate its impact, and you may be invited to participate in those events and activities. We may also publish information about projects undertaken with Archive Testbed funding to share the learning outcomes with the rest of the archive sector.