Concepts and principles for the
management of electronic
records, or records management
theory is archival diplomatics
School of Library, Archival and Information Studies,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Purpose – The greatest challenges which digital systems present are the creation and maintenance
of reliable records and the preservation of their authenticity over time. It is vital for every organisation
that its records should be able to stand for the facts which they concern, i.e. that their content is
trustworthy. To meet these challenges the international community of records professionals must
develop appropriate strategies, procedures and standards. This paper seeks to explore the concepts
and principles derived from archival diplomatics that should guide the management of electronic
records and therefore these developments, as well as drawing conclusions about the nature of the
research work required.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper looks at the problems presented by electronic
records, considers a deﬁnition of electronic records, and discusses the authenticity and reliability of
Findings – Research work needs to be carried out to formulate the principles that will guide the
development of international, national and organisational policies, strategies and standards, the
speciﬁc criteria for each type of policy, strategy and standard, and the procedural methods for their
implementation. The most important thing is to ensure that the policies, strategies and standards are
consistent with one another, and this is only possible when they are based on the same concepts and
inspired by the same principles.
Originality/value – Concepts, laws and models from various ﬁelds must be studied to foster useful
transfers from one ﬁeld to another, to encourage the development of theory in emerging areas of
endeavour and investigation, to eliminate the duplication of theoretical efforts in different ﬁelds, and to
promote consistency of scientiﬁc knowledge. However, in order to develop the body of knowledge of
records management, concepts, laws and models of archival diplomatics must be brought to bear.
Keywords Records management, Information management, Archives management
Paper type Conceptual paper
In his article “Records management: confronting our professional issues”, J. Michael
Pemberton writes: “the theoretical roots of records management, archives, and
librarianship lie in information science, cognitive science, systems sciences, and at
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
This article is a revised English version of a talk given at the Annual Conference of the
Association of Catalan Archivists in Vic, Spain, in May 1999.
This article was originally published in Records Management Journal, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 149-71
(1999) and has been republished as part of the journal’s 20th anniversary commemorative issue.
Records Management Journal
Vol. 20 No. 1, 2010
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited