CIfA focus groups 2021

We have just concluded a qualitative research project that will help us to measure the successful implementation of the 2021-30 CIfA strategic plan.

Qualitative research provides insight that can help us to understand the opinions, thoughts and behaviours of participants. In turn, this helps us to operate as a more effective professional body.

In this research project, the participants included CIfA accredited archaeologists at all grades, employers from commercial archaeology contractors, major multi-disciplinary firms, clients, local authorities, universities and all four national heritage agencies. In addition, there were a number of freelance participants. Participants came from all parts of the UK and from overseas. There was a mix of genders. Non-members took part alongside members.

We chose to use online focus groups as our research method and a total of 10 focus groups took place in July and August.

The project will be repeated in 2024 so we can look back and compare what the participants think then to what they thought this year.

The participants really enjoyed being part of this research process as it gave them an opportunity to engage with CIfA, to meet other people with similar roles and to share their concerns, opinions and thoughts on the discussion guide topics.

The topics were: professional standards; professionalism and accreditation; external audience and stakeholders; CIfA’s leadership and governance; the preparedness of graduates.

The insight generated by this research project shows there is positive appreciation for CIfA as an organisation, especially CIfA’s advocacy work on behalf of the profession. But there is more work to be done to explain CIfA’s role as a professional body. The insight also shows there is scope for CIfA to build stronger links with academia and that this may have benefits for commercial archaeology as well as undergraduates and graduates.

This research project will be repeated in 2024, 2027 and again in 2030 to answer the overall research question; has the 2021-30 CIfA strategic plan been successfully implemented?

If you are interested in taking part in future CIfA research projects, you can register your interest with Ed by emailing