Scientists have archives too!

We have been working on how to promote the Archives Hub more widely, emphasising its value to the whole research community. Whilst it is always likely to be historians in the front line when it comes to using archives, I think that sometimes people are not aware of the value that primary sources can have for a whole range of subject areas.

The Archives Hub is funded by the JISC and our core descriptions are from UK universities and colleges and therefore we are very keen to promote the Hub to academic researchers. One way that we have come up with to do this is our new Intwine feature. The Archives Hub Collection of the Month (CoTM) feature already showcases the diversity of archives described on the Hub. We wanted to utilise this feature more effectively, and one of the ways to do this was to categorise it in some way. I thought that we might be able to use the Intute categories as a means to do this. Originally, we considered aligning the CoTM with Intute by picking future subjects according to the Intute categories, so that we might have so many CoTM’s on arts and humanities, so many on social sciences, so many on science and technology and the same for health and life sciences. However, in some ways its useful to be flexible with the subjects picked for CoTM so that we can feature new collections that are on the Hub or collections that contributors are particularly keen to highlight. We therefore decided to categorise past CoTM features under these academic discipline areas, and also under the Intute sub-categories within this. Thus we came up with Intwine.

A further feature that we have introduced is dynamic searches within Intwine, so that for example a user interested in astronomy can search for all descriptions that have this as an index term. This is particularly useful because one of the shortcomings of Intwine is that it does not reflect the entirety of the descriptions held on the Hub; it only reflects the descriptions included in Collection of the Month features. It is also a good way of getting someone into the Hub site to a page where they can see other similar subjects listed via the Hub’s Subject Finder.

We think this is a straightforward and, we hope, effective way to get across to our users the idea that the Archives Hub does indeed have archive descriptions relating to engineering, climate change, wartime operations research, scientific conferences and, of course, undulating railways.