The value of archive content in academic research

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‘Archive content’ can simply be defined as artefacts from the past. This content appears in many forms, such as documents, photographs and recordings, all of which represent former discoveries and offer a background to past research findings. Often a reliable source of primary research, archive content documents significant historical findings, providing a level of accountability to current research. In this digital age, why is older research still valuable in university teaching and relevant to present-day research?


Archived records complement current research, as they provide a base knowledge that academics can build on over time. As technology progresses, older research can be re-evaluated, ensuring the expansion and revision of global knowledge. Furthermore, academics can interpret information differently; archive content allows for discussion and critique of these early documents, with the potential to impact current research.


Archive content provides transparency of findings through time, giving researchers a unique opportunity to uncover early research and track developments. Early records ensure research continuity, preserve historically significant information and secure academic knowledge for future generations.


Exploring the relationship between archives and librarians


The role of the librarian here is a very important one – to ensure the preservation and accessibility of archive content in the library. It is vital that librarians respond to faculty needs, ensuring that relevant archive documents are available and building collection development policies accordingly. Publishers work closely with librarians to understand end-user needs and focus on making content discoverable. Taylor & Francis informs librarians when end-users reveal high demand in research areas, particularly within the Archive portfolio.


Preserving the world’s oldest scientific journal


The Taylor & Francis Online Journal Archives allow librarians to supplement current content in their library and researchers to explore centuries of academic excellence. Philosophical Magazine, the world’s oldest commercially published scientific journal, is available back to its very first volume, which was published in 1798. As publishers, it is our duty to preserve such early research, including classic papers by Faraday, Joule and Bohr, as well as the great work of Nobel Prize winners such as Sir Ernest Rutherford, Louis de Broglie, Sir Nevill Mott and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes. The work on Philosophical Magazine’s digitisation is ongoing. This allows current physicists to track the history of the research in their field, and allows for significant developments to be made based on this knowledge.


Digital resources


The digitisation of material for the Routledge South Asia Archive, which includes journals, reports and rare books from the Indian subcontinent, is a significant development for researchers of South Asian history and culture. Emeritus Professor Brian Stoddart, former Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University, Australia, believes: “As research and scholarship enter the digital age, the South Asia Archive provides one of the biggest breakthroughs ever for those in the field, especially at a time when there is so much rising concern about the future of the physical archive in the subcontinent.”

Archive content is highly valuable as it allows researchers to delve into the past, transforming historical research into up-to-date knowledge. While the physical documents are carefully preserved, their digitisation has led to increased discoverability. Researchers no longer need to travel to the location of material, allowing for quicker, easier and more in-depth research to take place all over the world.


How will effective archiving impact future research?


Artefacts from the past should be carefully retained to ensure the transparency and reliability of research. Without archive content, the wealth of current research would cease to exist in the future. Not only does preservation of past research enable us to track academic developments, it also secures the future of research happening today.


For more information on the Taylor & Francis Online Journal Archive, please visit


To find out more about the South Asia Archive, visit