Research and collaboration

The digital preservation team is currently undertaking research in the following areas.

PRONOM – file format research

PRONOM enables digital archivists, records managers and anyone using the tool to find out what files they have and in which formats. The digital preservation department carries out file format research in order to make sure that PRONOM covers the most important formats for The National Archives and the digital preservation community. The first priority is being able to identify all file formats transferred to us by UK Government departments. The second driving force of our research comes from the digital preservation community. We actively encourage organisations or individuals dealing with digital records to help provide information on the formats they encounter.

Contributors include The British Library, National Library of New Zealand, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and many more.

See the wide spread of regular contributors from around the world who have played a vital part in expanding the coverage of the signatures included in PRONOM.

Traces through time

The Traces through time project is carrying out research that looks to create a generic, extensible approach to tracing the lives of real people through time.

Visualising historical time and graphically representing temporal uncertainty

Sam Cottrell is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Student supervised by Sonia Ranade at The National Archives in collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

Visualisations incorporating time (chronographics) have the advantages of other visualisation types, allowing an audience to make sense of data by identifying patterns, trends, clusters, gaps, and outliers.  When graphical processes are applied to historical data sets additional insights include spotting connections through and across time and related parameters, and understanding the context of individual events, actions and artefacts.

Uncertainty is an important aspect of temporal data, yet it is often ignored when representing it graphically. Sam’s research explores how doubt, controversy, inaccuracy and other types of uncertainty can be represented in chronographics, and how its depiction may allow for greater insights.