FTNA Early Career Research Fellowship (Transcription Platform)

The National Archives

Closing date: 29 May 2018

Reference number



£30,000 pro rata for 6 months


Higher Executive Officer

Contract type

Fixed Term

Length of employment

Fixed Term Appointment for 6 months

Business area

Research and Collections - Research and Academic Engagement

Type of role


Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Job share, Part-time



Number of posts



Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU

About the job

Job description

Would you like to open up new kinds of access to archives?

Friends of The National Archives (FTNA), established in 1988, is a charity supporting and assisting the work of The National Archives. This new 6-month postdoctoral research fellowship, generously funded by the Friends, is an exciting opportunity to join The National Archives, which is establishing itself as a centre of pioneering research.

As FTNA Early Career Research Fellow (Transcription Platform), you will focus on how to transcribe the handwriting in The National Archives’ collection of over a million wills proved before the Prerogative Court of Canterbury between 1384 and 1858. The wills are an unparalleled source of information about people, places, possessions and land across England and Wales for a period of nearly 500 years. Our long-term aim is to transform the content of the wills into data that we can open up for many kinds of use and re-use.

In this role you will investigate the use of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), an emerging but promising technology that could potentially enable greater automation of the transcription process. You will scope, design and build a lightweight proof-of-concept transcription platform that demonstrates how HTR could be combined with human generated transcriptions. After evaluating your prototype with input from the volunteer crowd sourcing community, you will produce a set of practical recommendations to senior staff at The National Archives and to Friends of The National Archives about how to proceed with the transcription of the wills.
We are looking for a researcher with:
• Demonstrable skills in user experience design and rapid prototyping.
• The capability and interest to actively engage with users, to understand their requirements and gain feedback through technical evaluation.

Your research will be valuable to us: it will lay the foundations for our future research across many other collections, and help us prepare a major funding bid to build the necessary infrastructure to achieve the transcription of the wills.

Join us here in beautiful Kew, just 10 minutes’ walk from the Overground and Underground stations, and help create a modern national archive that makes our history even more accessible. In return, you’ll receive a great Civil Service benefits package that includes flexible working, pension, childcare vouchers, access to sports facilities and opportunities for training and development.

Full job description attached below.

To apply:

To submit your application please click the 'Apply now' button on this page, where you will be asked to upload a CV and supporting statement. In your supporting statement please explain how you meet each of the essential criteria below. You may draw on knowledge, skills, abilities, experience gained from paid work, domestic responsibilities, education, leisure interests and voluntary activities. Please note selection for interview will largely be based on the information you provide in this section.

To apply please use the Apply Now button.

Please remove any details that could identify you, from the CV and Supporting Statement

Salary: £30,000 pro rata for 6 months


We'll assess you against these competencies during the selection process:

  • • A higher degree (masters or doctorate) in a relevant specialist field (e.g. digital humanities, computer science, Human Computer Interaction) or demonstrable equivalent experience.
  • • Demonstrable skills in user experience design, and rapid prototyping.
  • • The capability and interest to actively engage with users, to understand their requirements and gain feedback through technical evaluation.
  • • Experience of communicating research through a variety of methods and channels and proven ability to communicate complex subjects in clear and accessible ways.
  • • Excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills, and therefore able to interact well and build effective relationships and networks within the organisation and externally.
  • • Ability to handle a varied and demanding workload, and to manage own priorities within a supportive team environment.



Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.


Generous benefits package, including pension, childcare vouchers, sports and social club facilities, onsite gym, subsidised staff restaurant and opportunities for training and development.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must pass basic security checks.

Selection process details

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Contact point for applicants

For further information please contact the Recruitment Team on 0208 392 5203 or careers@nationalarchives.gov.uk

Sift/interview dates and location

To Be Confirmed

Further information

Reasonable adjustment

If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:
• Contact The National Archives via careers@nationalarchives.gov.uk as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs

• Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional

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