Recordkeeping Informatics

28 July 2017

Associate Professor Gillian Oliver


Associate Professor Gillian Oliver, Director Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics, Faculty of IT

Gillian Oliver is Associate Professor of Information Management and Director of the Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics at Monash University.  Her previous academic and practice roles were in information management in the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand.  She is co-author of Recordkeeping Informatics for the Networked Age and Records Management and Information Culture: Tackling the People Problem, and leader of the International Council on Archives funded project on developing a toolkit for the analysis of information culture.

  • achieve excellence at a world top 100 university
  • be part of an internationally recognised faculty
  • pioneer recordkeeping informatics research to impact society

The Faculty of Information Technology is building a new world-leading team in Recordkeeping Informatics research. The projects outlined below will contribute to Recordkeeping Informatics research. Stipend and tuition fees scholarships are available for two PhD students to join the team. In your projects

The Opportunity for PhD Students

Recordkeeping Informatics for a Networked Age is a way of conceptualising recordkeeping for 21st century organisations and communities. It is based on two building blocks - continuum thinking and recordkeeping metadata - and explores three facets - information culture, access and business processes - to rethink recordkeeping approaches to better deal with the expanding continuum of recorded information that is a hallmark of the digital and networked age. It aims to take into account the social, cognitive and technological characteristics of our current environment and address the collapse in collective memory brought about by digital disruption.  In these projects, the Information Culture facet is the key focus, i.e. the influences of values, attitudes and behaviours relating to information in socially constructed entities such as organisations and communities.

Outcomes from both projects will also contribute to the Archives and the Rights of the Child research program which brings together community advocates, practitioners and researchers to re-imagine recordkeeping and archiving systems.  The contribution from these two projects will focus on the organizational actors involved in this environment.

Project 1 :  Rights, Records and the Professions

Knowledge about oneself, knowing the people and places which make us who we are, may be taken for granted if that knowledge is provided on an ongoing basis during the process of growing up and socialization within families.  For many individuals such as children in out-of-home care however, insight into the decisions made that influence the course of their lives as well as access to knowledge about family and kinship connections is dependent on the records created by a range of different professionals. These professionals may include social workers, police, doctors and nurses among others.  The act of records creation is complex and a largely unexplored area likely to involve multiple actors and genre systems.  Recordkeeping literacy capabilities are fundamental, and the choices made relating to, for example, style, content and media are significant.   The approaches and perspectives that people bring to recordkeeping will be influenced by their occupational cultures.  Occupational culture is shaped by the infrastructures established to maintain professional identities and boundaries, thus including educational requirements, professional association membership and so on. The concept of occupational culture is frequently acknowledged as being significant in terms of impacting on recordkeeping and other information practices, but evidence is more likely to be anecdotal rather than the result of authoritative research.

The central research question will be to explore the extent to which specific values, attitudes and behaviours that influence records creation practices are associated with the occupational cultures associated with specific professions.  Research design will be developed in consultation with the professional group(s) of interest, will be ethnographic in nature and will be appropriate to the cultural norms of the specific occupation, while taking into account the need to move to co-creation. Outcomes will include the development of a blueprint for creating records literate professionals to work as change agents within their occupational sector.

Project 2:  Recordkeeping Professionals for the Networked Age

Recordkeeping Informatics is a reconceptualization of records management for a digital networked environment.  Records management developed as an occupation in the twentieth century, in response to the need to manage the vastly increasing numbers of paper documents that were being created in the course of business activities.  Today’s proliferation of digital information presents challenges of a scale and magnitude previously unimagined, prompting the development of new theoretical models and standards, but the occupational infrastructure has not evolved at the same pace.  The complexity of today’s environment requires a multi-faceted information profession, with recognized specialisms, akin to the medical and legal professions.   The absence of specialist expertise for the management of authoritative recorded information will be disastrous, posing significant risks to transparency, accountability, evidence, and memory.  Attention has been paid to the characteristics of professionals working in the cultural heritage sector, particularly where collaboration and convergence between libraries, archives and museums is occurring.  However, requirements and characteristics of professionals working in current recordkeeping environments remains largely unaddressed.

The central research question will explore the conceptualization of recordkeeping informatics as a multi-layered professional grouping, working in collaboration with other information professionals in cognate disciplines.  Research design will involve ethnographic exploration of technologically advanced workplaces and is likely to utilize actor network theory and the application of rhetorical genre studies to illuminate the ways in which people work and interact with records. Outcomes will include the development of a blueprint for recordkeeping professionals as transformative change agents operating within organization and community settings, to ensure recordkeeping frameworks are effective and appropriate for all actors and actants.

Candidates Requirements:

Applicants are required to have:

  • An educational background in information or knowledge management or a communication discipline
  • The ability to engage with people working in diverse professional areas
  • Willingness to question existing professional norms and structures
  • The ability to develop innovative and creative solutions.
  • Applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD at Monash University please Check the eligibility requirements.

Candidates need to be eligible to undertake a PhD in the Faculty of IT at Monash University. Please check your eligibility on the How to apply page and if you meet the criteria please submit an Expression of Interest. (PDF, 0.14 MB)


For further information please contact Gillian Oliver

Contact name: Associate Professor Gillian Oliver