Proposing a new research collaboration with the British Library

Two men and a woman (staff members of the Eccles Centre) discussing a book

Find out how to work with us on a collaborative research project.

Overview

The British Library has significant experience of working with external research partners to attract joint funding from research councils and trusts. We welcome proposals that promise to produce the highest-quality research and lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. 

If you wish to collaborate with us, please complete our online form. Your proposal will then be reviewed by the Research Development team and other relevant Library staff. 

Many collaborations will entail contributions and commitments from different teams within the Library, so it is important that we ensure that there is appropriate resource to proceed. For example, as well as curatorial expertise, a project might include experts in areas such as Learning, Digital Scholarship or Collections Metadata.

It is important that you contact us as at the earliest possible stage in the development of a new proposal, to allow sufficient time for a decision on the proposed collaboration to be made, and to enable us to help shape the development of any subsequent funding application.

Scope

The British Library’s collections and areas of expertise are extremely wide-ranging and we collaborate on research across a diverse range of subjects and disciplines, from the humanities to data science and beyond.

Some examples of past and current collaborative research projects are available on our project pages.

Many of our staff have research profiles on our Experts page.

To understand our structure and identify possible collaborators, you may also find it helpful to visit the Research Expertise page.

When and why we collaborate

Our ability to collaborate on a project depends on a number of factors, including staff capacity and the extent to which the proposed research would align with and support our core purposes, as described in Living Knowledge.

Collaborative research projects will typically enable us to do one or more of the following:

  • Increase our research capacity
  • Investigate new methods/types of research
  • Capitalise on the breadth and depth of our collections
  • Generate new knowledge about our collections
  • Develop relationships and engage new audiences
  • Benefit future users and the wider public
  • Advance mutual understanding globally

How we collaborate

Our involvement in your project can range from a relatively light-touch advisory role to being a Co-Investigator. As an Independent Research Organisation (IRO), we are also able to apply for funding and lead research projects in our own right.

Our contributions to collaborative research projects typically include:

  • Providing expertise
  • Providing access to collections – physical and digital – that would not be possible through Reading Room use
  • Digitisation of material (please see this page for further information on digitisation projects)
  • Hosting events, workshops and study days
  • Providing training
  • Hosting and supervising PhD students and postdoctoral researchers
  • Hosting relevant material on our website and blogs
  • Generating new digital resources
  • Exchanging knowledge and expertise to enhance and expand catalogue metadata
  • Writing research publications
Please note that we develop our exhibitions years in advance in line with internal priorities and approval processes. We therefore rarely commit to hosting an exhibition as part of a grant bid, and encourage you to discuss other routes to public engagement with us.

Policy

The Library’s Code of Good Research Practice summarises the standards of performance and conduct expected of anyone engaged in research for or on behalf of the Library.

As part of our internal review process, we will consider any ethical considerations raised by the proposed research, consulting our Research Ethics Committee where appropriate.

Our Open Access policy supports the principle that publicly funded and peer-reviewed UK research should be freely available to all.

Contact

If you wish to collaborate with us on a research project, please complete our online form. We will then get back to you to discuss your proposal further. 

For general questions, please email Research.Development@bl.uk.