Studying Reality: The Application of Theory in an Aspect of UK Practice

  • Caroline Williams


This paper contributes to the ongoing debate about the nature of the relationship between theory and practice. It reviews traditional approaches, considers more recent ones, both within and beyond the archival domain, and concludes that the relationship is a dynamic one. It offers a case study on the investigation of the application of appraisal theory in a range of UK archives, which demonstrates that training, experience, and intuition are of as much use as theory to some practitioners, although responses are often shaped by the archives’ organizational setting.


Ce texte contribue aux débats continus sur la nature du lien entre la théorie et la pratique. Il revoit les approches traditionnelles, il considère les plus récentes tant dans le domaine de l’archivistique qu’au-delà, et il conclut que le lien est dynamique. Il offre une étude de cas sur l’analyse d’une application de la théorie de l’évaluation archivistique dans un éventail d’archives britanniques qui révèle que la formation, l’expérience et l’intuition sont tout aussi utiles que la théorie pour certains praticiens, même si les réponses sont souvent colorées par le contexte organisationnel du centre d’archives.

Author Biography

Caroline Williams
Caroline Williams has been Director of the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS) since its inception in 1996, having spent a number of years as a senior archivist in local government in the UK. She directs the postgraduate Master of Archives and Records Management professional entry program, and a distance program for work-place professionals. She is Chair of the UK Forum for Archives, Records Management Education and Research (FARMER), and a member of the National Council on Archives and of the International Council on Archives (ICA) Section on Archival Education. Research interests relate to articulations of theory and practice; the collection and management of data; and archival education. A recent publication is Managing Archives: Foundations, Principles and Practice (2006).
How to Cite
Williams, Caroline. 1. “Studying Reality: The Application of Theory in an Aspect of UK Practice”. Archivaria 62 (1), 77-101.