Archival legislation in several Commonwealth countries provides the national archives with the statutory mandate to manage and preserve government records. The archival literature recognizes that archival legislation lags behind advances in technology and that it is often not robust enough to support the management and preservation of records. However, there is a lack of empirical research on how archival legislation is operationalized within specific socio-political, cultural, and juridical contexts, and on the perceptions of archivists and records managers about such operationalization. This dissertation addresses how the operationalization of archival legislation in the UK, Canada, and Singapore influences its effectiveness in the implementation of records management programs. The study takes into account the common law system based on an intergovernmental organization, the Commonwealth, as well as the different socio-political and cultural contexts of the countries. To explore the shared and varying views that archivists and records managers have on archival legislation, the study largely employs interpretivist perspectives and hermeneutic principles to examine interviews conducted with archivists and records managers, selected legislation, normative sources, and other documentary sources related to the enactment of archival legislation. The findings of this research suggest that archival legislation operates in the context of a patchwork constituted by other records-related legislation and normative sources, and that there are complexities involved in making amendments to such legislation. There are also organizational culture issues that stem from the institutional relationships between the national archives and government departments and the individual-level relationships of archivists and records managers. These issues can enable and constrain the delivery of a records management program. Additionally, the joint responsibilities in recordkeeping and record preservation held by the national archives and other departments that have an interest in information management result in a collaboration constraint and have contributed to a perceived lack of leadership on the part of the national archives in records management. The study concludes with recommendations for the decoupling of archival national institutions from national archival legislation, and for a comprehensive regulation of all aspects of records creation, maintenance, and preservation in the public sector.
The assessment and protection of the authenticity of digital records and data are recognized as fundamental issues for the records’ current use as well as for their long-term preservation and dissemination. Over the past twenty years, the matter of how to define, determine, and guarantee the endurance of authenticity has been the subject of research in all evidence-based or memory-based disciplines, including archival science, digital humanities, and law. Despite the wealth of past and current research findings, recommendations, and tools, authenticity is still discussed as an urgent problem for records and data created and maintained in traditional digital technologies as well as in emerging ones, such as cloud technologies, and embedded or wearable technologies. This study investigates contemporary ideas about authenticity of records and data, and practices employed by records professionals. Based on the archival idea that record authenticity is assessed by establishing its identity and proving its integrity, this study identifies indicators for authenticity and categorizes them as either social or technical mechanisms. Using a mixed methods design, it measures how records professionals ensure, manage, and continuously assess record authenticity and to what extent their practices reflect the results of available research. A web-based survey reached records professionals worldwide through professional listservs, and semi-structured interviews gathered further qualitative data from a sample drawn from the survey respondents.The results show that the standard archival definition of authenticity is not uniformly accepted or implemented in practice, and terms such as authenticity, reliability, integrity, and provenance are often used interchangeably and with little precision. They also reveal that experience plays a major role, in that professionals who are not required to authenticate records in the course of their work tend to have more confidence in technical mechanisms that those who are. The study concludes that most records professionals ensure authenticity by relying on social mechanisms but have greater confidence in technical mechanisms to authenticate records and data. In other words, records professionals, traditionally the trusted agents of record control (trustees), have frequently become the trustors, placing their trust in technology of which they may have little understanding and even less control.
Recordkeeping standards are intended to offer guidance and recommendations for the requirements of a sound and effective records management program. One of the uses of recordkeeping standards may be to help organizations ensure the trustworthiness of records in the event that an organization must present records for consideration as evidence in court. No empirical study has previously been conducted, however, to determine if standards provide suitable guidance about the relationship between recordkeeping principles and legal compliance. Therefore, no assessment has yet been made of whether standards contain sufficient or appropriate guidance to help organizations meet their obligations for the creation and management of legally admissible records. This dissertation addresses the nexus between recordkeeping standards and the admissibility of business records as evidence. The study uses case law from British Columbia and Ontario as a basis for comparing admissibility criteria in a selection of relevant cases against the content of a selection of relevant recordkeeping standards. The study aims to determine if the standards examined provide adequate recordkeeping guidance to help an organization support legal compliance with the criteria for admissibility identified. As an exploratory study, this research also presents an innovative model for considering the suitability and applicability of recordkeeping standards, particularly in relation to the legal obligations of an organization for records creation and management. The findings of this research show that the act of sound and structured recordkeeping helps an organization increase the likelihood that its business records will be admitted as evidence, but that standards play a very small part in actual decisions about admissibility. Case law from British Columbia and Ontario reveals that, in order to convince a judge that a business record is trustworthy, counsel needs to be able to demonstrate the existence of, and consistent application of, accurate and up-to-date recordkeeping documentation. The study offers recommendations on how recordkeeping standards could be strengthened so that they provide more robust and effective guidance about recordkeeping practices and the creation of records-related documentation, most notably in relation to legal issues associated with the admissibility of evidence.
Information is considered by the Government of Canada its “lifeblood” and its management is regulated by both law and government policy. Being part of information management, records and their management are required to facilitate “accountability, transparency, and collaboration”, including “access to information and records”. The right to access government records is granted by the Canadian Access to Information Act, which, since 1985, has been the main mechanism for the public to inquiry about the government’s conduct and decision-making. The Office of the Information Commissioner was established to monitor the administration of the Act, including assessing government institutions’ performances under the Act. In 2009, the Office reported that almost 60% of the institutions it assessed were rated with a below-average performance, based primarily on their delay in releasing requested records. The Office thus concluded that “The poor performance shown by institutions is symptomatic of what has become a major information management crisis”.This information management crisis motivated the present study, which aimed at finding explanations for it. Within the framework of the grounded theory methodology, data were collected from thirty government departments, including publications, emails, site observations, notes of conversations/teleconferences, and internal records released by Access to Information requests. These field data, along with relevant literature, were coded, memoed, and constantly compared for formulating the explanations, or discovering the substantive theory. At the center of the theory lies the core variable record nature, which underlies ninety six concepts and the hypotheses based on the concepts. According to the theory, when the understanding of record nature is incomplete, the management of records is ineffective and unable to deliver any concrete results, causing in departments the marginalization of the records management function, the disappearance of records, and ultimately, the inability to perform basic yet critical tasks in supporting government operation and accountability, that is, the information management crisis.The study contributes to archival science in general, and to records management in particular, both theoretically and methodologically. It specifies the concept of record nature, clarifies popular misconceptions, elaborates on records management principles, and offers a records management work model conforming to the generated theory.
Records management and archival theory recommends that records classification, as a means to identify and organize the records made or received in the course of business, should be based on an analysis of the records creators’ functions and activities and reflect them. However, the purpose of classification, the meaning of the term function, and the methodology for conducting a business analysis are not clearly explained in the relevant literature. Additionally, no studies of actual applications of the functional approach to records classification in real organizational settings exist.This dissertation addresses the question of how the concept of function and the functional approach to records classification are understood by those who are responsible for the development and implementation of records classification systems as well as by the users of such systems. In order to contribute insights that can enrich the theory and methodology of records classification, an empirical, interpretivist research design, based on an initial survey of potential study subjects and a multiple-case study research, was conducted in four selected central banks in Europe and North America. One of the selection criteria was that the organizational cultures of the case study sites had to be as heterogeneous as possible.Findings showed that the meanings of function, functional approach, and even classification are subject to various interpretations, that classification developers find functional methodologies confusing, and that users do not usually appreciate the outcomes of their efforts. Furthermore, because the approach to classification was not always consistent with the nature of the records, some of the classification systems examined did not adequately serve either records management or business-related purposes. The research also provided an explanation of the relationship between organizational culture and the understanding of both records management and business processes.
Archaeology is a science that destroys the very evidence it wishes to study. Archaeologists must therefore clearly document all stages of their work. In Canada, legislation dictates that all artefacts recovered from archaeological activity must be deposited in an archaeological repository. In most cases only copies of a final report are required to be submitted to the provincial government department responsible for archaeology. This thesis sought to discover what happens to the documents generated from archaeological activity and whether they are of value to archaeologists. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and surveys, and a review of current literature on archaeological practice. It was found that archaeologists place a high value on the documents they generate during an archaeological project and wish that they be kept in perpetuity; however, a lack of recordkeeping standards and of a relationship based on trust between archaeologists and archaeological repositories has led to poor record keeping practices amongst archaeologists in both academic and consulting environments and few transfers to repositories. The few documents that are transferred to repositories are rarely processed according to archival methodology for preservation and they are not easily accessible to researchers or the public. Thus, this thesis is concluded by a series of recommendations aimed to ensure that the documentary by-products of archaeological activity be maintained and preserved as reliable and authentic evidence of the projects to which they relate.