The National Archives is the official archive of the UK central government. We also have a leadership role for the archive sector in England. We conduct research that supports our strategic aims both as keeper of the national record, and as archives sector lead. Our research ranges widely over disciplines, from history and heritage science to digital preservation and Big Data.

Our four-year business plan, Archives Inspire 2015-2019, sets out our goals in relation to our major audiences, one of which is the research and academic community. Over the next four years we aim to ‘advance knowledge through exemplary academic liaison and outstanding interdisciplinary research’. Our goals include expanding our national and international reputation for research, developing funding success and responding to the changing needs of academics and researchers.

In order to ensure that our research answers key questions for The National Archives, we are developing a core set of research priorities, which will drive our research activities and academic engagements going forward. These will be launched in Autumn 2017.


We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with academic partners on research that speaks to our core challenges. The benefits revolve around knowledge exchange and the sharing of expertise. We are committed to viewing our challenges through interdisciplinary lenses and look for academic partnerships that will expand our perspectives and push the boundaries of our understandings. 

Our current collaborations developed under this ethos include our involvement in the Archangel Project, funded by the EPSRC, and led by the University of Surrey. This project tackles some of our core digital preservation challenges through the exploration of Distributed Ledger Technology:

The National Archives has developed a close working relationship with Research Libraries UK (RLUK) which culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2014. The relationship has centred on investigating and addressing some of the challenges faced by both the archive and research library sectors through joint research, stakeholder events, and collaborative opportunities.  We are also in the process of creating a formal relationship with Jisc which centres on our shared commitment to enhance the digital skills capacity of the archives sector, and archival users, through research, trainings, and skills development. These relationships are visible manifestations of TNA’s commitment to work collaboratively with sector stakeholders in an open, transparent and proactive manner.

We also work hard, in our role as archive sector leader, to encourage collaboration between universities, academics and archival institutions. This has been through published guidance and research, the convening of the Higher Education Archives Programme, and our joint conference with RLUK, Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities.  

We work closely with our partners at the Royal Historical Society and Institute of Historical Research to promote and disseminate inter-disciplinary and innovative archival-based research through the delivery of joint seminars, workshops, and lectures.

We are also an active member of the Forum for Archival and Records Management Education & Research (FARMER).