The new Archive Service Accreditation Scheme was launched in June 2013. The scheme tests how far archive services meet the Accreditation Standard and helps organisations to make value-adding improvements to the services provided.
The Archives and Records Association would like to hear from archivists or those with experience in the archives sector who would like to join the pool of Peer Reviewers, becoming part of the teams which carry out onsite validation visits for Archive Service Accreditation in England.
As a Peer Reviewer for the Archive Service Accreditation Scheme you will have the opportunity to undertake validation visits as part of the assessment team within your chosen English region(s). You will work in conjunction with the Scheme's Assessors for England, from The National Archives.
As part of the assessment process a minimum of 25% of applicants will receive a validation visit. The visit is an opportunity for the assessment team to check documentation which is not submitted as part of the online application, look at the facilities and talk to staff about key aspects of the way the organisation operates. This will enable the assessment team to identify significant strengths, clarify the required actions and recommend long-term improvement areas.
Peer reviewer recruitment and training for validation visits in Scotland will be carried out by the Scottish Council on Archives. Wales and Northern Ireland are not currently intending to use Peer Review.
- What are the benefits of Peer Review?
Peer Review is an extremely valuable and exciting learning, development and improvement opportunity, not only for the organisations receiving the outcomes, but also for the peer, the peer's organisation and the archives sector as a whole. It has the following benefits:
For the peer and their organisation....
(a) Peer Reviewers develop knowledge & skills which can play a significant role in helping to build capability within their own organisations:
- Insight to the requirements of the Archive Service Accreditation Standard
- Knowledge of other organisations' approaches (including best practice)
- Peer challenge skills
(b) Peer Review gives peers significant opportunities for broader personal development, relating to the type of skills that modern leaders need (e.g. relationship building, 'positive challenge', questioning, 'listening to understand', personal confidence, influencing, analysis & synthesis, etc)
For the organisations being assessed....
(c) Peer Reviewers understand the nature of the organisation's services, bring expertise and empathise with people's challenges; this adds to their impact.
(d) Organisations often respond positively to Peer Reviewers, which leads to a positive, accurate and incisive validation.
For the archives sector....
(e) Peer Review opens doors to further powerful 'peer-supported improvement activity' within the sector (e.g. peer mentoring, peer coaching, action learning sets, best practice benchmarking, etc)
(f) Peer Review makes good use of the resources, skills, experience and knowledge which exists within the archives sector (it is therefore more likely to be sustainable)
- What is the role of the Peer Reviewer?
The Peer Reviewer's role involves the following:
• Planning and preparation for the validation visit, including gaining familiarity with the application and liaising with other members of the validation team
• Conducting the validation, including leading one-to-one and group discussions, observing practices, viewing facilities and reviewing documentation
• Reviewing the findings with the assessor(s) and agreeing key findings (including strengths and good practice), required actions and improvement areas
The above process will require approximately two days of your time (including travel time) for each visit conducted. Travel and out of pocket expenses will be paid. Validation visits take place during set periods three to four times a year.
Your initial training will be a one-day Workshop to help you develop skills and knowledge relating to the Archive Service Accreditation Standard, the assessment process and Peer Review techniques. You will then need to commit to developing your Peer Review skills continually through self-awareness, self-learning and communicating with fellow peers.
- What skills and experience do Peer Reviewers require?
Previous Peer Review experience is not required. However the following underpinning characteristics are required:
• Passion for the archives sector, its impact and the continual improvement of archive services
• Experience of the archives sector sufficient to support improvement and development
• Desire to work collaboratively to achieve improvement of services
• Effective and flexible verbal communication skills, the desire to 'listen to understand', and the ability to ask open, positive and challenging questions (without judging or imposing your personal views onto others)
• Confidence to try out new techniques and to learn from what happens
• Willingness to accept different ways of working and thinking about archive services
• Self-awareness and commitment to continual personal development and continuous improvement
- Applying to become an Archive Service Accreditation Peer Reviewer
Your preferred contact email:
Your current position:
Your current organisation:
If not currently employed, please give last position/organisation above and clarify here:
What you will bring to peer review:
Please describe what you can bring to the role of peer reviewer and how your experience to date will enable you to provide sound and balanced judgement on issues relating to the Accreditation Standard (600 words max)
Peer review practicalities:
Please indicate the regions in/to which you are prepared to travel for validation visits:
Yorkshire and Humberside
East of England
Indicate how many validation visits you would be willing to participate in each year:
If you are currently employed, please confirm that your employer is content for you to act as a peer reviewer.
Once your application has been reviewed and you are confirmed as suitable, your details will be included on the list of interested peer reviewers. You will be alerted to available training workshops and asked to book a place when you are available. You will become a peer reviewer after successfully completing the training.