Theory, regulation and practice in Swedish digital records appraisal


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Publication Details

Author list: Klett, Elisabeth

Publication year: 2019

ISSN: 0956-5698

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-09-2018-0027



Digital records appraisal and aspects of archival values in theory, regularization and practice are explored. This paper aims to reflect upon the appraisal process, responsibility and norms for value creation in a digitalized environment. The research question was how do appraisal theory, normative rules and appraisal practice meet the aims of values in digital archives?


The study triangulated appraisal theory, normative values and participants’ views about archival values in appraisal practice in a Swedish setting. Content analysis were used to explore normative documents and interviews. Appraisal theories of the Swedish Nils Nilsson and the Canadian Terry Cook were interpreted. The result was related to theories on public values, the nature of responsibility and relations between the state and citizens.


The results show influences between theory, norms and practice. Changes in norms and practice do not follow the development of digitalization. Responsibility is focused on tasks, which exposes risks of accountability control and knowledge of appraisal grounds. The paper concludes that access requirements and user needs may prompt change in appraisal processes. In the light of digitalization, “primary and secondary value” are merely a matter of use and usability in a time and space (continuum) perspective.

Research limitations/implications

This study is based in Sweden where extensive right of access to public records and default preservation are norm.


The result shows how allocated responsibilities impinge on a re-active digital appraisal process.


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