Specifications and Research

NARA’s Preservation Programs Research and Testing Division has published a Heritage Science Research Strategy that sets out our research priorities designed to meet the challenges of preserving a 21st century archival collection.

To achieve this, we will work closely with the university sector, allied institutions, and industry partners to extend our expertise through collaboration, building on existing networks and developing new relationships, nationally and internationally.  


The focus of our research is clustered around these main themes:

1.       Managing Risk and Building Resilience

          This theme aims to improve understanding of material change, and the significance of change over time.

·         Environmental Management:  To mitigate the risks of climate instability, and to improve energy efficiency, we will exploit the potential of data analysis to predict the building performance of NARA’s facilities.

·         Modern Analogue Materials: We need to understand better many of the methods and materials used to create records over the last fifty years, as well as the mechanisms, rates of decay, as well as understanding what is acceptable loss.

·         Dynamic and Digital Media:  Building on existing research, we will seek to better understand the rates of change and obsolescence of some formats.


2.       Integrating research into policy and practice

          We will undertake scientific analysis of NARAs holdings to improve practice and add value to our holdings.

·         Technical Analysis: We will use advanced instrumentation and scientific analysis to characterize our records to better understand how they were made to inform the historic narrative of records, and preservation practice.

·         Material testing and Evaluation:  We will take a leading role in national material testing initiatives, and continue to monitor and report our material evaluations.

·         Data Collection and Analysis:  We will analyze the data we collect, to better understand and predict material change.


3.       Adopting, Adapting and implementing

          Heritage Science Research is growing internationally with proved success of outstanding academic research and innovation.  Yet despite this success, implementing the outcomes of research remains slow. Our aim is to better connect expert   knowledge with end-users.


Current Projects

Past Projects and Recent Publications


The information presented below is intended to assist conservators and other professionals engaged in preservation and conservation activities in performing highly specialized tasks.

Created by staff at the National Archives in conservation applications, this material is written for users with an existing knowledge of conservation, preservation and related subject matter.