May 27, 2022

New Report: RLUK, National Archives (UK), and JISC Publish “Citation Capture: Challenges and Opportunities with Citing Archives Consistently”

From a RLUK Blog Post:

2018-11-02_14-15-58Research Libraries UK (RLUK), The National Archives (TNA) and Jisc have published a report to kickstart a discussion about citation practices, and how to standardise references to unique and distinct collections (UDC’s) held in repositories across the UK.

Every year, tens of thousands of citations are included within the footnotes and endnotes of academic publications despite the fact that a widely agreed and coherent system of referencing UDC repositories does not currently exist. A TNA survey conducted in 2015 revealed that only a small percentage of archives proactively gave guidance to users about citation.

Creating a more consistent framework for how academics cite UDC collections will deliver two main benefits. By standardising references to collections and the materials within them, it will be easier for archivists, librarians and collection managers to gauge usage and to take informed collection management decisions. Secondly, it will provide valuable metrics for repositories to evidence impact and make the case for funding.


Key Findings

Key criteria for the development of a standardised citation model for UDC repositories include integration with existing conventions; accessibility for academics and non-academics; having a single point of access for guidance; and relative brevity of references.

  • Possible citation models include reference to the full repository name for the initial citation, followed by an abbreviated letter code based on the repository name for subsequent citations; or a model based on existing ARCHON codes.
  • Evidence from primary research points towards three-letter codes as the most appropriate citation model. The principal benefit is that it can be integrated with current practice. While this model would lead to duplication of certain codes, this is not viewed to be a barrier to citation capture across academic publications as long as the full repository name is cited in the initial citation.
  • Validation workshop findings indicate that a model based on existing ARCHON codes may offer greater integration with emerging digital infrastructures, such as ORCID codes, as well as ensuring that each repository would have a unique identifier without duplication. Challenges associated with this model include that not all repositories currently have ARCHON codes, and that the model would create a greater emphasis on users knowing and accurately reproducing repository codes.
  • Further challenges associated with both models include the ability to adapt to repository name changes; capturing online and social media citations; and the time and financial investment which is likely to be required to ensure that the guidelines are adopted by users.
  • Strategies to embed best practice and ensure buy-in for a standardised model include the widespread publication of guidelines; support from publishers; encouraging the uptake of catalogue plug-ins to increase the accuracy and consistency of UDC citations; and the delivery of a publicity campaign to raise awareness and increasing the knowledge and skills required to capture citations.
  • Investing in bespoke citation capture tools to automate the citation capture process is likely to be beneficial to ensure accurate and comprehensive data collections; another advantage would be the ability to respond to changes in how UDC collections are used, both now and in the future.
  • Challenges associated with using existing data capture tools include data protection limitations which may limit future partnership working; low usage of existing tools among academics (raising questions about the effectiveness of such tools from the user perspective); and the lack of technical knowledge among UDC repositories to capture and analyse the data.
  • Key implementation partners identified include learned societies, software companies, publishers and funders. Any partnership working with publishers and editors is like.

Direct to Full Text Report: Citation Capture Report: Challenges and Opportunities with Citing Archives Consistently
56 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.