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  Records management 

[Last update: 16 January 2013]

Glossary

 
 
This glossary explains key concepts related to document and records management. You will find the definitions used in this field at the Council of Europe.
 
 
triangle Document

"Recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit", regardless of format or medium (physical, digital or analogue, text, data, graphics, images, moving images or sound).
Based on ISO 15489-1

More information
 
 
triangle Information life cycle

Information Life Cycle Management refers to the process by which information is handled from its creation to its final disposition. The 5 stages involve creation/acquisition, identification/cataloguing, storage/preservation, access, elimination/reuse for creation.
Source: Archival policy of the Council of Europe, § 8.10

More information
 
 
triangle Metadata

Structured information that describes and/or allows us to find, manage, control, understand or preserve other information over time.
Source: National Archives of Australia, quoting Cunningham

More information
 
 
triangle Policy

A general guideline to regulate organisational action and conduct. A policy is a type of position statement by explaining the organisation’s stand on a subject and why there’s a rule about it, so it deals with the "what" and "why".
Source: Campbell, Writing effective policies and procedures, 1998
 
 
triangle Record

A record is any document created or received by the Council of Europe in the course of its activities that provides evidence of decisions or action taken. Records may take the form of texts, publications, images or audio recordings, in either physical or electronic form.
Source: Document and records management, brochure Council of Europe 2010

More information
 
 
triangle Retention period

The length of time records should be kept in a certain location or form for administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or other purposes.
Source: American Society of Archivists

More information
 
 
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Glossary – more information

 
 
triangle Document

"Recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit", regardless of format or medium (physical, digital or analogue, text, data, graphics, moving images or sound).
Based on ISO 15489-1

Recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit.
Source: ISO 15489-1

A document is traditionally considered to mean information fixed on paper, but the present definition has been broadened to include any recorded text, image or sound, in digital or analogue format, created by an author.
Source: Archival policy of the Council of Europe, § 8.6
 
 
triangle Information life cycle

Information Life Cycle Management refers to the process by which information is handled from its creation to its final disposition. The 5 stages involve creation/acquisition, identification/cataloguing, storage/preservation, access, elimination/reuse for creation.
Source: Archival policy of the Council of Europe, § 8.10

In a records and archives environment, [it is] a concept of record keeping that draws an analogy between the life of a biological organism, which is born, lives and dies, and that of a record, which is created, is used for so long as it has continuing value and is then disposed of by destruction or by transfer to an archival institution.
Source: International Records Management Trust
 
 
triangle Metadata

Structured information that describes and/or allows us to find, manage, control,
understand or preserve other information over time.
Source: National Archives of Australia, quoting Cunningham

Data describing context, content and structure of records and their management through time.
Source: Moreq 2; ISO 15489-1

In records management context, metadata are defined as data describing the context, content and structure of records and their management through time.
Source: ISO 23081-1

  Metadata for managing records

Structured or semi-structured information, which enables the creation, management, and use of records through time and within and across domains.
Source: ISO 23081-2

In general, "data about data;" functionally, "structured data about data." Metadata includes data associated with either an information system or an information object for purposes of description, administration, legal requirements, technical functionality, use and usage, and preservation.
Source: Dublin Core

Structured information that describes and/or allows users to find, manage, control, understand or preserve other information over time. Metadata is attached to records when they are created and added to as a result of different processes such as sentencing and disposal.
Source: National Archives of Australia

Data describing the records and their management through time.
Source: Archival policy of the Council of Europe, § 8.11
 
 
triangle Record

A record is any document created or received by the Council of Europe in the course of its activities that provides evidence of decisions or action taken. Records may take the form of texts, publications, images or audio recordings, in either physical or electronic form.
Source: Document and records management, brochure Council of Europe 2010

Information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.
Source: ISO 15489-1

A record is all information created, sent and received in the course of carrying out the business of your agency. Records have many formats, including paper and electronic. Records provide proof of what happened, when it happened and who made decisions. Not all records are of equal importance or need to be kept.
Source: National Archives of Australia

Information by-products (regardless of form or medium) of organisational and social activity, providing evidence of single or serial transactions and functions. Not all records become archives.
Source: British Records Association

Recorded information produced or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an institutional or individual activity which comprises content, context and structure sufficient to provide evidence of the activity. This applies to all records regardless of format and medium.
A record provides evidence of a transaction or a decision. Information or a document may become a record after being declared in a record management system.
Source: Archival policy of the Council of Europe, § 8.12
 
 
triangle Retention period

The length of time records should be kept in a certain location or form for administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or other purposes.
Source: American Society of Archivists

In a records and archives environment, the length of time that records should be retained in an office or records centre before they are transferred to an archival institution or destroyed as obsolete. The retention periods chosen for different records should be based on legislative or regulatory requirements as well as on administrative and operational requirements.
Source: International Records Management Trust