Cox on Archival Mission

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Re-Discovering the Archival Mission: The Recordkeeping Functional Requirements Project at the University of Pittsburgh, A Progress Report by Richard Cox (description and interpretation of progress and potential implications of research being carried out between 1993-1996)


1.) University of Pittsburgh responded to a call from the NHPRC to "define the requirements of electronic records programs; explore the conceptual, economic, and technological constraints on the long-term retention of electronic records; and establish criteria against which to measure the effectiveness of policies, methods and programs."


2.) An interdisciplinary team of library, information and archival science experts studied the following issues:

  • recordkeeping functional requirements (elements that guarantee integrity or substance of archival records) for electronic systems
  • variables in organizations that affect the way in which both software and hardware are utilized and which may affect the degree to which archival functional requirements can be adopted
  • technical capabilities or organizational software products to satisfy archival requirements
  • policy and standards to satisfy archival requirements
  • effectiveness of technology and policy strategies to ensure archival interests can be met


3.) Intended product: a set of research products that address the viability of recordkeeping functional requirements, which are seen as a major venue for preserving electronic information with archival value; to be used by both archivists and records and information managers.


4.) Hypotheses to be tested:

  •  functional requirements for archival management of electronic records are the same as for traditional records, although many functional req. will not be satisfied by traditional record systems
  • it will be possible to satisfy each of the functional requirements
  • different business applications will share different sets of archival func. requirements/different degrees of risk are associated ith non-satisfaction of requirements
  • different software applications will not dictate different recordkeeping func. req.
  • recordkeeping func. req. will be the same for each business sector
  • the best way to satisfy func. req. will depend on an organization's corporate culture


5.)  Recordkeeping functional requirements: capture, maintain, access

Tactics: policy, design, implementation, standards

Variables: business applications, software applications, business sector, organizational culture


Design is to study 5 organizational sites and they developed an additional set of hypotheses regarding organizational culture and the reaction of particular institutions to the recordkeeping functional requirements through meetings, interviews


6.) How they determined recordkeeping functional requirements for this study: through a literature review, information extracted from the review was written up and sent to over 100 archivists/records managers for comment...


7.) They defined archival records=evidences of transactions...and drafted recordkeeping func. req. that seek to preserve within an organizational environment (the records creator) the sense of the record as an organizational transaction that preserves evidence of that transaction.


8.) Accomplishments: Corpus built - reports, studies, articles, manuals and other materials related to electronic records  - organized and abstracts added, shared in ProCite (does this exist any longer?); Electronics Record Course; papers by doctoral students on the project in Archivaria