Introduction to recordkeeping

What is a record?

A record is something that you:

  • look for when you need evidence or proof that something was agreed to, issued or decided, etc
  • go back to because it helps you understand something that occurred in the past
  • may require if there are legal proceedings, a Freedom of Information inquiry, an audit etc.
  • will create as part of your day to day working life. Records can be created in both hard copy and electronic formats. They will be created whenever you enter information into any Monash University system including SAP, Callista, TRIM, email, social media, websites, etc

Not all records have the same value.  Some are more important than others.  When deciding if you should create and/or keep a record or not is, it can be useful to think about;

  • Whether the information has been captured by anyone else
  • If it hasn’t been, is someone in the business now or in the future likely to need it

For a more formally worded definition - please visit our Policy and Procedures.

Characteristics of a records management system

Unless your record is located in a system it’s value as a University record may be somewhat compromised. For example, a record of a meeting that is kept in a personal drive that only one staff member can access, and that staff member later leaves the University without making the record accessible to anyone else is not a recommended records management system.  A system could be:

  • as simple as a series of organized hard copy documents in a filing cabinet at a University office
  • a structured electronic environment such as SAP, Callista, TRIM, Salesforce/UniCRM, Moodle, etc.
  • an unstructured or semi-structured system such as an S: Drive, Google, email account, etc.
  • published on a public facing system such as the University website or a University social media account.

Some systems keep and organise records better than others.  The best systems for University records management will have the following characteristics:

  • Reliable - you can locate the data you need, when you need it (i.e. you aren’t spending days trying to find things).
  • Trustworthy - you don’t have to go double checking other places first or wondering whether what you are looking at is an out of date version or a copy.
  • Authentic - the data is what it claims to be and you are not concerned that it could have been accessed or modified in an unauthorised manner, without detection.

Why does good recordkeeping matter?

  • Under the Public Records Act of Victoria (1973), the University is considered a public agency and all records created as part of University business could be subjected to Freedom of Information requests, VAGO Audits, privacy breaches etc.
  • Legal/evidentiary purposes, this is particularly important in the case of records such as contracts, records relating to student administration, staff administration, financial transactions, matters relating to grants, property and buildings maintenance, OHS, etc
  • To provide business efficiencies. This is often the most practical aspect of good records management. Being able to locate key information efficiently when it is needed and to trust that what is being accessed is authentic, reliable and trustworthy information helps any business to save time and run smoothly.
  • Preserve the history and corporate memory of the University.

Responsibilities for recordkeeping

All staff are public officers and consequently may be responsible for any number of recordkeeping activities including: creating, capturing, maintaining, storing, disposing, archiving and providing access to university records. The type of records that different areas of the university are responsible for, differs, depending on the function. So staff involved in student administration may have far more involvement in the management of student records, than staff who work in human resource management. All staff need to be aware that they have recordkeeping responsibilities and if they are unsure as to what these might involve they should contact Archives and Records for advice.

Additional recordkeeping responsibilities for different groups can be found on Policy and Procedures.