Conducting research using the UK Web Archive: Dr Alice Austin, University of Edinburgh

Event Date: 26 April 2023

Speaker: Dr Alice Austin, University of Edinburgh

Title: Conducting Research Using the UK Web Archive

Time: 1-3pm

Venue: SBS Stenhouse Wing, Room SW1.04 or email for Zoom information

This workshop will present the Talking About Health collection and touch on some of the challenges encountered when selecting, preserving, and making web content accessible. After introducing some of the available tools and methods for conducting research with web archives, we will invite participants to consider how the archived web might contribute to their own research, and how web archiving processes, systems and legislation might be improved for this purpose.

Archives and libraries have long worked to ensure that historical documents are preserved for research, but many of the social activities that used to rely on physical records now increasingly use and link to pages and documents held on websites. The live web is a volatile and ever-changing landscape, with some studies suggesting the average website has a lifespan of just over two and a half-years. Without archived websites, then, researchers will struggle to understand contemporary events and learn from past mistakes.  

The UK Web Archive (including the National Library of Scotland) has been preserving UK websites since around 2013, but the COVID pandemic catalysed a rising crisis for archiving rapidly changing information shared on the web. Emerging from these COVID-19 collecting projects, the Archive of Tomorrow is an ambitious collaborative project between the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh University Library, Cambridge University Library, and Bodleian Libraries, Oxford that intends to curate a collection of c.10,000 health-related sites. It is hoped that capturing a diverse range of resources - from dissenting or contentious actors as well as from official and authorised sources – will support future research into the interaction between health and the internet, and the collection can be used as a test bed with which to interrogate the creation, management, and use of archived web resources for research.

Published: 18 April 2023

Contact details

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