Clever Recordkeeping Metadata Project Outcome Area 4

Re-conceptualising the delivery of recordkeeping service

Implementing recordkeeping metadata instances raised a number of issues concerning the current articulation of recordkeeping which was revealed to be too imprecise for immediate use in electronic process oriented recordkeeping instances. More precise, and potentially different, methods of expressing recordkeeping functionality and outcomes, and consequently, more precise (or different) metadata expression is required. Beyond this, moving to an environment using service based components, requires a re-expression of recordkeeping functionality which is challenging for current recordkeeping practitioners. The research identified a number of areas which are potentially of interest to recordkeeping and these are earmarked below.

Brief discussion

The research identified many points at which recordkeeping concepts were in need of further exploration to devise articulations to facilitate automatic implementation of electronic recordkeeping. Expression of many of the core recordkeeping concepts and their expression in our current recordkeeping control tools are too highly abstracted and commonly expressed at levels of aggregation which do not enable immediate implementation in process oriented electronic recordkeeping. The practice and theory of appraisal need to be enriched by considering issues of metadata management from the point of creation. The implicit meanings inherent in our tools and the metadata representations of recordkeeping elements need to be made explicit. The research project did not explore these areas in depth, but earmarked them for further exploration.

Summary finding

  • Recordkeeping relationships are revealed to be increasingly powerful ways of expressing the characteristics of records. Initial exploration of relationships identifies that many aspects of recordkeeping can be expressed as statements of relationship – eg role (relationship between an agent entity and a function entity), aggregation (relation between layers within one entity) etc. Further exploration is required to define the extent to which relationships can be exploited for recordkeeping purposes, and consequent expression of relationships in formalised metadata syntax is also required.
  • The expression of an element value is often an abbreviation of the full set of metadata associated with its aggregation (eg Joe Bloggs, is really an abbreviation of an assumed wider context - Joe Bloggs, Research Assistant, Faculty of Information Technology, Caulfield, Monash University). Not exposing these implicit assumptions inherent in the abbreviation inhibits appropriate translation between metadata elements defined in diverse metadata schema and thus impacts re-use, automatic translations and interoperability.
  • Tools for assisting in decision making about how to define the boundaries of the contextual assumptions in practical implementation environments are required. This is an extension of the traditional concept of appraisal. An appraisal decision is required to define the extent of the contextual assumptions within an implementation environment – when and in response to what conditions should implicit metadata which is assumed within a certain environment be made explicit and therefore available for other implementation environments to exploit?
  • Further exploration of concepts considered to be the province of ‘archival’ considerations are likely to reveal relevance for implementation of electronic recordkeeping for cross organisational processes, eg the specification of external contextualisation (beyond the immediate transactional context), unique identification beyond the transactional context, ownership, definition of rights inherent in transactions etc.
  • In electronic processing environments, the notion of a record is revealed clearly as a construct – the result of a number of individual components which together cumulate to be the record. Defining what individual components are involved and where the record should be captured are acts of selection, an aspect of appraisal. In some instances, the ‘capture’ of a recordkeeping transaction as a composite of multiple smaller business transactions, could also be an act of assertion that the business transactions have taken part in a routine, valid, reliable process, thus potentially adding an authentication role to the notion of record.
  • To enable exploration of this increasingly disaggregated transaction environment and the role of records in it, much greater standardisation is required for recordkeeping analysis of work processes. Such standards need to deal with representational issues if they are to play a role in enabling interoperability.
  • Continual assessment of emerging computing techniques such as event centric and role based computing, and the capacity to find recordkeeping connections with emerging techniques is essential to embed recordkeeping capacity into future electronic environments.