Trusted Source

February 2016 — February 2018

Principal and Co-investigators
Alice Purkiss (Project Lead)
Professor William Whyte (PI)
Dr Oliver Cox (Co-I)
Charles Pugh (National Trust Supervisor)

Research Organisations
University of Oxford
National Trust

Funding sources
National Trust
InnovateUK Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Dates of funding
2016 - 2018

Trusted Source is a collaboration between the University of Oxford and the National Trust, based in Oxford’s Humanities Division. The project began as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the two organisations which responded to the challenge of creating resilient, long term, and mutually-beneficial relationships between the heritage sector and academia.

The Trusted Source KTP created an online knowledge bank of concise, engaging and accessible articles about history, culture and the natural environment, crowdsourced from ‘trusted sources’ across university research communities and the National Trust. These evergreen articles explore a range of subjects from different academic perspectives, offering National Trust visitors and online users a spectrum of insights into the charity’s diverse portfolio. Articles include definitions of specialist terms, in addition to profiles on the people and historical movements linking the Trust’s historic places, landscapes and collections.

In the first two years Trusted Source commissioned 120 peer-reviewed articles for the National Trust’s website, written by 50 authors from a range of disciplines including History, English, Music, Art History, Archaeology, Classics, Geography, Plant Sciences and Earth Sciences. These articles alone showcased 85 historic properties, 58 landscapes and coastlines, 7 gardens and 55 historic collection items.



Rather than a one-sided transfer of knowledge from academia into the National Trust, Trusted Source supports researchers at all career levels with valuable opportunities for public engagement with research, provides a mechanism for sharing expertise with non-specialist audiences, showcases research activity, offers networking opportunities with industry colleagues and opens up interdisciplinary research networks, in addition to raising awareness of the research potential of the charity’s diverse portfolio within the academic community.

The project has also benefited researchers beyond Oxford University, welcoming contributors from 9 UK universities to date in addition to National Trust specialists. A survey of contributors found that 84% were ‘very’ or ‘quite likely’ to collaborate with external partners after writing for Trusted Source, and 100% confirmed that contributing to the project had a positive impact upon their research communication.



The project enabled Oxford University and the National Trust to develop a shared language and way of working which has contributed to significant collaboration beyond Trusted Source including new AHRC-Funded Collaborative Doctoral Awards, academic research projects, public lectures and events, academic consultancy, interdisciplinary workshops, and the development of the new Open – Oxford – Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership within which the National Trust is one of three strategic partners.

Trusted Source adopted the established KTP programme run by InnovateUK, traditionally used for STEM subjects and industrial partners, for innovative application within Humanities and the heritage sector. Although not the first humanities-related KTP, it is the only humanities project to have taken such an interdisciplinary approach and to have driven such significant organisational change. Independent ‘A: Outstanding’ grading by InnovateUK is testament to its success within a traditionally STEM-dominated field, and further supported by the Alice Purkiss’ win for her work leading Trusted Source at the University of Oxford’s inaugural Innovation Awards.



After the initial 2-year KTP, Trusted Source has now been built into business as usual at the National Trust and is supported going forward as a core workstream in the new National Trust Partnership at the University of Oxford. The expanded initiative is funded by the National Trust for an initial period of three years, and will support new research, knowledge exchange and training through a range of opportunities at both organisations, including research placements and consultancy, conferences, workshops, lectures and events. It is based in Oxford’s Humanities Division and is intended to be interdisciplinary, building partnerships across the University’s academic Divisions.


Find out more about Research at the National Trust here.