United Nations Participating Organisations

DAP – Phase I

Development of a Strategic Plan

Digital Assessment Survey




Active records - Those records required for the day-to-day functioning of an agency or person. Also referred to as current records.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 461


Appraisal-  The process of evaluating business activities to determine which records need to be captured and how long the records need to be kept, to meet business needs, the requirements of organisational accountability and community expectations.  The process of determining the retention period of records.  General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1


Archives- Those records that are appraised as having continuing value. Traditionally the term has been used to describe records no longer required for current use which have been selected for permanent preservation. Also referred to as permanent records.   


The place (building/room/storage area) where archival material is kept.   An organisation (or part of an organisation) responsible for appraising, acquiring, preserving and making available archival material.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 463


Archival data format- A format into which digital data object are converted for long-term preservation.


Capture- The process of determining that a record should be made and kept. This includes both records created and received by the organization. It involves deciding which documents are captured, which in turn implies decisions about who may have access to those documents and generally how long they are to be retained.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-2, Clause 4.3.2.


Classification- The process of identifying the category or categories of business activity and the records they generate and grouping them, if applicable, into files to facilitate description, control, links and determination of disposition and access status.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-2, Clause 4.3.4


Conversion- Conversion is the process of changing records from one medium to another or from one format to another.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-1. Clause 3.7


Creator- The corporate body, family or person that created, accumulated and  / or maintained records in the conduct of personal or corporate activity.  General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1


Data archiving- The process of creating and maintaining archived files within a computer system. An archived file is one which has been stored on some backing medium (eg magnetic tape) and not held permanently on-line to the main store. The file will not appear in the operating system's catalogue of current files, but can be reconstituted should the need arise.  Gunton, The Penguin Dictionary of Information Technology, p. 36


Data- Facts or instructions represented in a formalized manner, suitable for transmission, interpretation or processing manually or automatically.  13 International Council on Archives, Dictionary of Archival Terminology, KG Saur, Munich, 1988, p. 48.


Data management- The function of controlling the acquisition, analysis, storage, retrieval, and distribution of data.  McDaniel, IBM Dictionary of Computing, p. 17


Digital Archives Programme – is a combination of policies, procedures, standards and technologies that facilitates the proper management, appraisal/retention and preservation of digital records and provides for the long term access and use of materials with long term value.  Preservation requires active management that begins with record creation. – SOW- Strategic Plan for Digital Archives Programme


Digital Signature- A security mechanism included within a digital object that enables the identification of the creator of the digital object, and that can also be used to detect and track any changes that have been made to the digital object.

Australian Government Information Management Office, Trusting the Internet – A Small Business Guide to E-security, July 2002


Digital record- A record created and or maintained by means of a digital computer technology.  Digital records are a subset of electronic records.


Disposition authority- A systematic listing of records created by an organisation or agency which plans the life of these records from the time of their creation to their disposal. A disposal schedule is a continuing authority for implementing decisions on the value of records specified in the schedule. Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 468


Document - Recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.10 


Document Management System (DMS) (also EDMS) -  An automated system used to support the creation, use and maintenance of electronically created documents for the purposes of improving an organisation’s workflow. These systems do not necessarily incorporate recordkeeping functionality and the documents may be of informational rather than evidential value (ie the documents may not be records).


Electronic messages -  A general term covering all forms of electronically-mediated communication. This includes electronic mail for text messages and an equivalent service that uses recordings of spoken messages, known as voice messaging. It may also include computer conferencing and videotext. Also used as synonymous with electronic mail.  Gunton, The Penguin Dictionary of Information Technology, p. 100


Electronic records - Records communicated and maintained by means of electronic equipment.  Capable of being processed in a computer system and/or stored at any instant in a medium which requires electronic or computer equipment to retrieve them.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 469



Electronic Records Management System – see Records Management System


File- An organized unit of documents grouped together either for current use by the creator or in the process of archival arrangement, because they relate to the same subject, activity, or transaction. A file is usually a basic unit within a record series.  General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1


A complete, named collection of information, such as a program, a set of data used by a program, or user-created document. A file is the basic unit of storage that enables a computer to distinguish one set of information from another. A file might or might not be stored in human-readable form, but it is still the "glue" that binds a conglomeration of instructions, numbers, words, or images into a coherent unit that a user can retrieve, change, delete, save or send to an output devise.  Microsoft Press, Computer Dictionary, p.470


A file is a collection of documents, which show organisational activities through an identifiable sequence of transactions. Individual documents on the file have relationships with each other, for example a letter and a reply, and a reply to that etc., which are preserved by being kept on file in the right order and are part of the evidence in the records.



Functional analysis- Functional analysis is the analysis of business activity. To undertake this analysis you must collect information from documentary sources and interviews; identify and document each business function, activity, transaction; establish a hierarchy of business functions, activities and transactions, that is, a business classification scheme; and identify and document the flow of business processes and the transactions which comprise them.


General records disposal schedule- General disposal schedules cover functions common to a number of agencies, typically used by government archival authorities to cover functional areas such as Personnel, Finance and Stores.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 468


Inactive records-  Those records no longer required for the conduct of business and which may therefore be transferred to intermediate storage, archival custody or destroyed.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 472


Index- A systematically arranged list providing access to the contents of a file, document, or groups of documents, consisting of entries giving enough information to trace or locate each entry by means of a page number or other symbol.  Bellardo & Bellardo, A Glossary for Archivists, Manuscript Curators, and Records Managers, p. 24


Indexing- The process of establishing access points to facilitate retrieval of records and/or information.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-2, Clause 3.11


Information systems- Organised collections of hardware, software, policies, procedures and people, which store, process and provide access to information.

Informational value        The value for reference or research deriving from the information the records contain, as distinct from their evidential value. Records and archives often contain information that has reference or research uses not envisaged by its creators. Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 462


Intellectual control- The control established over the informational content of records and archives resulting from ascertaining and documenting their provenance, and from the processes of arrangement and description.

Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 472


Medium- The physical material, container, and / or carrier in or on which information is recorded (i.e., paper, film, magnetic tape).

General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1


Metadata- Data describing context, content and structure of records and their management through time.

International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.12


Physical control- The control established over the physical aspects (such as format, quantity and location) of the archives and records in custody.

Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 476


Preservation - Processes and operations involved in ensuring the technical and intellectual survival of authentic records through time.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.14


The actions which enable the materials in an archives to be retained for as long as they are needed i.e. the basic functions of storing, protecting and maintaining records and archives in archival custody.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p .476


Recordkeeping systems- Information system which captures, maintains and provide access to records through time. International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.17


Recordkeeping systems may be distinguished from other types of information systems by the fact they are organised to accomplish the specific functions of creating, storing and accessing records for evidential purposes. Bearman, 'Record-keeping Systems', p. 17


Records- information in any form or medium, created or received and maintained, by an organization or person in the transaction of business or the conduct of affairs.  General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1


All documentary materials, regardless of physical type, received or originated by the United Nations or by members of its staff, excluding United Nations documents.  United Nations ST/AI/326, Clause V 12.


Records lifecycle- The whole extent of a record's existence from the time of the creation of records (and before creation, in the design of recordkeeping systems), through to the preservation and use of records as archives.


Records management-  Field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.

International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.16


Records Management System (RMS) (also ERMS) – An automated system used to manage the creation, use, maintenance and disposal of electronically created records for the purposes of providing evidence of business activities. These systems maintain appropriate contextual information (metadata) and links between records to support their value as evidence.


Retention period-  The period of time, usually based on an estimate of the frequency of current and future use, and taking into account statutory and regulatory provisions, that records need to be retained before their final disposal. Sometimes used to indicate the length of time records are to be retained in offices before being transferred to intermediate storage.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 479


Secondary storage- A low-cost, warehouse-style repository or storage area where inactive or intermediate records are housed and referenced pending their ultimate destruction or transfer to archives.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 472


Series-  (Also known as records series) Documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they result from the same accumulation or filing process, or in the same activity; have a particular form,; or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use.

General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1


Standards- Records management and recordkeeping standards are authoritative standards to which an organisation is subject or which it chooses to adopt. Standards provide benchmarks for measuring performance and describe best practises in any or all aspects of recordkeeping. Thus standards may function to specify minimum performance levels or describe best practice.


Storage- The decision to capture a record implies an intention to store it. Appropriate storage conditions ensure that records are protected, accessible and managed in a cost-effective manner.  International Standard ISO/TR15489-2, 4.3.7


Temporary records - Records with no archival value that can be sentenced for destruction.   Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 480


Vital records - Those records that are essential for the ongoing business of an agency, and without which the agency could not continue to function effectively. The identification and protection of such records is a primary object of records management and disaster planning.  Ellis (ed), Keeping Archives, p. 480


XML -  (eXtensible Markup Language) – A simple, flexible computer language developed by the World Wide Web Consortium as an open, non-proprietary technology that creates common information formats so that both the format and the data can be shared between organisations, regardless of their respective Internet computing platforms.  Australian Government Information Management Office, B2B E-Commerce: Capturing Value Online, 2001, p. 90.