With the question of “How should we implement our methodology?” still looming from before Christmas, our lead Archive Researcher and Project Worker met up to tackle this enigma head-on…and we think they came up with a pretty water-tight strategy! Together they designed a system that would (a) be straight-forward to follow and (b) avoid any duplication of research results…so here’s what they decided*.
First, the micro-film and the British Newspaper Archive research was separated into two distinct projects, each with their own individual research process. When approaching the micro-film research the first stage was to see how many boxes of micro-film were held in the archive for each newspaper that we were examining. In total there were 192 micro-film boxes for the Liverpool Daily Post and 42 boxes for the Liverpool Echo. It was anticipated that each micro-film box will take roughly 6 hours/one-day to read through and log – we will reflect on whether or not this was an accurate estimate later on in the project. With this in mind, the team was able to allocate different box numbers to each volunteer archive researcher and staff member (depending on the amount of time they were giving to the project), avoiding any duplication of research. A log sheet was also devised that each researcher would use to log the results of their research and this would then be inputted into a database of results. In logging the results via the same form, a standardisation of research results was possible and in putting this information into a database it them becomes easier to search through for future users.
The team then turned their attention to the British Newspaper Archive. The archive held 192 pages of results from the Liverpool Daily Post and a further 58 pages of search results for the Liverpool Echo. In the same way as the micro-film research was allocated via box number, the online archive research was allocated by page number. However, unlike the micro-film box number ordering system that stays the same whenever accessed, the ordering of the search page results is dependent on selections made when inputting the search criteria. This means that the person conducting the search has to do so in a way that orders the search results in a standardised format, meaning that page one will always display the same results, page two will always contain the same results and so on. In order to do this we embedded a simple step in the research process – asking all researchers to select the ‘show results by date: earliest’ option offered by the British Newspaper Archive’s search engine. This meant that the way in which the results were displayed would be fixed, allowing us to allocate specific pages to specific researchers. In a similar way to our micro-film research process, the researchers then logged the results they found on page ready for them to be inputted into the master database.
With our seemingly water-tight process in place and handouts and step-by-step guides produced, all that was left to do was to plan the archive research training sessions (and arrange the all important catering!).
*Full guides as to how we conducted both forms of research can be found on our resources page.