JRA Opportunity

Junior Research Associate opportunity: Digitising SF Fandom History

This is a call for current second year students at Sussex who are interested in applying to be a Junior Research Associate over the coming summer. You can find a description the JRA scheme here. This is a paid scheme, aimed at students who hope to pursue postgraduate research. This could be for you if you have an interest in the history of science fiction fandom and/or digital archiving and preservation. The deadline for the first round is 4pm Wednesday 10 April.


Vector is the magazine of The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), established 1958 and still publishing today. As the Science Fiction Encyclopaedia slightly snarkily puts it, “Vector has appeared variously as an association newsletter, a typical fanzine, and something like an academic journal.”

The BSFA currently have about two hundred issues of Vector scanned as PDF. It’s likely that the core of the project will be learning to use to learn to use the AtoM system in order to prepare these as a digital collection, ready for deposit into an institutional repository. You will explore what makes these materials valuable and unique, research and implement appropriate metadata practices, build upon existing (patchy) fan-curated record catalogues, including the ISFDB’s catalogue and Mike Cross’s catalogue, and begin to investigate some of the legal complexities of creating an archive.

We’re looking for somebody who wants to work in an independent and exploratory fashion, defining your own objectives, priorities, and research strategies within the project’s overall remit. So you’ll have the opportunity to shape your own research agenda, with the support of your supervisor. For example, you may want to look at reaching out to institutional holdings and fan communities to try to uncover missing issues; and/or explore the data of the collection using text analysis; and/or come up with novel ways of enriching the digital resource. The JRA could also be a great chance to learn more about the Sussex Humanities Lab and grow more involved in its research culture.


Round 1

The first stage is to send your CV and a statement of interest (200-400 words) to jcw38@sussex.ac.uk. The deadline for this is 4pm Wednesday 10 April.

In your statement of interest, you can mention what makes you interested in the project, any relevant skills or experience you may already have, and how you see the JRA fitting into your longer term plans.

If you like, your statement of interest can also outline preliminary ideas about how to approach the project. For example, what challenges might you encounter? What questions might you seek to explore? What will you need to bear in mind from the start? How might you structure your time? Who may you need to work with? Who are the stakeholders of this project, and in what ways is the project valuable? How might the themes of preservation, community, ownership, and access emerge in this project? What things are not yet clear, that you expect to be able to clarify through the project?

Round 2

The selected candidate will be supported in writing a project proposal to the JRA scheme itself. The deadline for applications for JRA 2019 is 16th April 2019, 4pm.  (Please note it’s a tight turnaround!).

You can find a description the JRA scheme here, and details of the application process here.

All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by mid May 2019.

For further information: Dr Jo Lindsay Walton, jcw38@sussex.ac.uk.

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