The assessing bodies for Archive Service Accreditation are: The National Archives, the Welsh Government through its Museums, Archives and Libraries Division, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and the Scottish Council on Archives and National Records of Scotland. They are responsible for the initial assessment of applications in their home nation and for making recommendations for accreditation to the accreditation panel.

Assessment and validation teams gauge how far the applicant service meets the requirements of the Archive Service Accreditation standard based on information supplied on the application form and supporting documents, and where relevant the on site visit. They then make a recommendation to the next available accreditation panel meeting, which will make the formal decision on the award of accredited status.

Validation visits

A minimum of 25% of applications are validated by an on site visit conducted by a mixed review team consisting of assessors from these bodies, and in some cases peer reviewers. The on site visit is an opportunity for the assessment team to check documentation which is not submitted as part of the online application, to talk to staff about key aspects of the application and to look at on site facilities.

Applicants from England

Applications should be submitted at least three months in advance of any meeting of the Accreditation Panel to ensure that their application is reviewed at a given panel. However in the early months of Archive Service Accreditation we aim to review applications which are submitted up to two months in advance of a panel meeting, although this is dependent upon capacity.

In England, on site validation visits will take place within given periods each year preceding the meetings of the accreditation panel, by arrangement with the application service. Archive services selected for an on site validation visit will be given information in advance about what to expect. They will also be contacted a minimum of one week in advance of the visit with details of any specific areas under review.

Peer reviewers

In England the onsite validation team may also include a peer reviewer. A peer reviewer is a volunteer member of the onsite validation team. Their role is to work alongside the The National Archives' assessor who is leading the visit, and gather further information to help clarify areas of the archive service's application for Archive Service Accreditation. This forms part of the assessment against the Archive Service Accreditation Standard. Peer reviewers also contribute to the development actions given to the applicant archive service based on their own experience working within the archive sector, either currently or within the last three years.

As well as their varied expertise and knowledge from their work within the sector, peer reviewers have also attended training courses in peer reviewing skills, including questioning techniques and the Archive Service Accreditation Standard, as part of their professional development through the Archives and Records Association (ARA).

Peer reviewers are expected to:

  • plan and prepare for the validation visit, gaining familiarity with the application and liasing with other members of the validation team
  • participate in the validation visit by using the questioning techniques practised during their training, including leading one to one and group discussions, observing practices, viewing facilities and reviewing documentation
  • review key findings with the assessor and contribute to the required and improvement actions based on their own experience
  • observe the code of confidentiality

This means a peer reviewer commits approximately two days (including travel time) for each visit.

Archive services and peer reviewers may also wish to establish an ongoing link beyond the validation visit to share expertise and knowledge around particular service development areas.

If you are interest in training as a peer reviewer you can find out more by either consulting the ARA website or contacting us at