Journal article
Examining the use of core terms in a records appraisal context : two Swedish examples

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Publication Details
Author list: Klett, Elisabeth
Place: Oslo
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Tidsskriftet Arkiv
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 1
ISSN: 1891-8107
eISSN: 1891-8107

Abstract

Records appraisal in the digital environment becomes a multi-professional enterprise, undertaken in the line of business, in which non-archivists play a vital role, but appraisal practices are not adjusted to this electronic reality. One aspect of this problem is the use and understanding of terminology. This paper presents a study on the usage of records-related terms in steering documents that affect records appraisal in Sweden. It uses a structured model for the analysis of steering documents. Used data sources are authoritative term databases and terminology report and steering documents from the three levels of regulations, i.e. Legislation and Regulations, Policy decisions and Instructions and Retention decisions steering documents from the Swedish National Archives and Stockholm City Archives, both archival authorities within their jurisdictions. The steering documents represents levels of hierarchical impact and are the foundations upon which appraisal is done and effectuated. Analysis of term frequency show change in vocabulary at level of hierarchy as well as development in time. Analysis of focus, characteristics and common features in definitions of terms show a variety of possible interpretations of the included terms, a result that affects appraisal and underpins a need for common corporate understanding in areas with multi-professional influences. The paper concludes that legal terms have impact on term use at regulation level, which lessens at lower levels, where vocabulary broadens. Difference is found between the two archival institutions studied, especially at decision level. Analysis of focus, characteristics and common features in definitions of terms show a variety of possible interpretations of the included terms, a result that affects appraisal and underpins a need for common corporate understanding in areas with multi-professional influences. An action suggested to mitigate risk is to form Communities of Practice for the task of records appraisal. One part of the task for these communities should be to agree upon shared concepts on used terminology that support electronic records appraisal. This would be a step where everyone involved develop a solid ground for the setting of the scope of appraisal. The idea of introducing Communities of Practice for the records and archives appraisal task is wider than the subject of this article, and should be further developed.


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