active record
A record needed to perform current operations or ongoing business matters. It is consulted frequently, and it must be conveniently available for immediate reference, either manually or via a computer system.

administrative retention criteria
The standards or rules concerned with the availability of records for long-term administrative consistency and continuity, as well as for day-to-day operations of individual program units.

admissibility
A legal term that refers to the conditions under which evidence, including records and information, may be introduced into legal proceedings. To be admissible as evidence, a record must satisfy two basic requirements: (1) Its content must be relevant to the issue at hand; and (2) its authenticity must be firmly established.

archival authority
Agency or program responsible for selecting and preserving archives, making them available, and approving destruction of other records.

archival data
Information typically stored on secondary, off-line media and is not directly accessible to users of a computer system, but it is nevertheless required for retention.

archives
Documents created or received and accumulated by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved because of their continuing value; the building or part of the building in which archives are preserved and made available for consultation, and/or the agency or program responsible for selecting, acquiring, preserving, and making available archives.

audit
Independent review and examination of records and activities to test for compliance with established policies or standards, often with recommendations for changes in controls or procedures.

authenticity (of a record)
Efforts to establish that a record is what it purports to be and has not been tampered with or otherwise corrupted since its creation; that is, its reliability can be demonstrated through the various phases of its lifecycle.

certificate of destruction
A form used to document the destruction of specified records series based on the records retention schedule. Typically includes the records series title, dates covered in the series, organization/agency unit owner of the records series, volume or number of boxes destroyed, name of destruction authorizer, method of destruction, and date of destruction.

confidential record
Any business record containing sensitive information. Such records are typically subject to special rules and policies concerning their access, use, and disclosure.

convenience copies
Duplicate(s) of an original record, often used for access or reference.

data archiving
The process of transferring electronic records from online storage devices, such as hard drives, to removable recording media, such as magnetic tape or optical disks, for offline storage. In most cases, the archived data is relatively inactive and does not need to be accessible online.

data migration
The process of moving data from one information system or storage medium to another; the process of converting electronic records to new file formats or storage media to maintain their usability over time.

data warehouse
A large database structure to support decision-making.

database
A file containing records organized into one or more data elements, called fields, which store particular categories of information.

destruction
The definitive obliteration of a record beyond any possible reconstruction. Methods may include shredding or incinerating paper records, or performing secure data deletion or disk and memory wiping for electronic records. See datamgmt.iu.edu for guidance on the destruction of institutional data.

destruction hold
A hold placed on the scheduled destruction of records due to foreseeable or pending litigation, governmental investigation, audit, or special organizational requirements. Also called legal hold, freeze notice, preservation order, suspension order, or hold notice.

digital document images
Images that are true copies of the documents from which they were made. A true copy is one that accurately reproduces an original document.

digital document imaging systems
Bit-mapped image representation systems that can complement, supplement, or replace paper filing systems and microfilm.

directory
A table of contents for an electronic storage medium.

disposition
A final administrative action taken with regard to records, including destruction, transfer to another entity, or permanent preservation. Examples may include destruction (see definition listed above), transfer to the University Archives, or to a centralized office.

document management
Techniques used to regulate the creation, use, and maintenance of documents according to established policies and procedures. See related: enterprise content management.

document type definition (DTD)
A set of rules that specify the structure of a document and the tags used to define that structure and that can be used to validate whether a document is well formed.

electronic record
A record that contains machine-readable, as opposed to human-readable, information.

electronic signature
Any electronic method of signing a computer-processable record.

enterprise content management
The technologies, tools, and methods used to create, capture, process, store, deliver, and preserve information content, particularly unstructured content, across an enterprise. See related: document management

event-based disposition
A concept wherein once a registered event occurs, the disposition schedule starts. Related: trigger event.

event code
A unique identifier of a specific event which starts the disposition period; often an abbreviation of a phrase or word. Example: the code for “calendar year end” may be CYE.

FERPA
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

field
A data element within a database record.

file plan
A classification scheme describing different types of files maintained in an office, how they are identified, where they should be stored, and how they should be indexed for retrieval, and a reference to the approved disposition for each file.

general records schedule
A records schedule governing specified series of record common to several or all agencies or administrative units of a corporate body, which are sometimes characterized as functional retention schedules.

Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (GARP)
Guiding statement on information governance based on eight recordkeeping principles published by ARMA International: accountability, integrity, protection, compliance, availability, retention, disposition, and transparency.

HIPAA
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. A set of national standards for the protection of certain health information.

historical record
Material in any format (paper, electronic, audiovisual, etc.) created or collected by an Indiana University unit or representative that is preserved because of the enduring administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential, or historical value or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of the unit or individual.”

inactive record
A record no longer needed to conduct current business but preserved until it meets the end of its retention period.

information life cycle
The distinct phases of the existence of information, from creation to final disposition.

inventory
See records inventory.

key field
A field selected for indexing within records contained in a database.

metadata
Structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource.

migration
The process of moving data from one information system or storage medium to another. Note: Migration is done to ensure continued access to the information as the system or medium is replaced, becomes obsolete, or degrades over time.

office of record
An office designated to maintain the record or official copy of a particular record in the organization.

office retention
The period of time that a records series is to be maintained in active storage for regular use.

offline information
Information stored apart from the device on which it will be retrieved or played back.

online information
Information immediately and continuously available to a computer.

permanent record
A record that has been determined to have sufficient historical, administrative, legal, fiscal, or other value to warrant continuing preservation.

physical inventory
The process of identifying all tangible records of an organization.

preservation
The process and operation involved in ensuring the technical and intellectual survival of authentic records through time.

privileged record
A record that contains information that is accessible only to those authorized to view it.

real-time backup
A disaster recovery method that employs simultaneous or nearly simultaneous recording of information by multiple computers.

record(s)
Material created, received, and maintained in any form as evidence and information by the organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in pursuit of the University’s mission.

record copy
The copy of a record designated to satisfy an organization's retention requirements for information that exists in multiple copies; also known as the official copy.

record series
A group of logically related records that support a specific business or administrative activity, e.g., a personnel file consisting of an application, reference letters, benefit forms, etc.

record series code
A unique identifier for a record series; often comprised of alphanumeric digits.

records inventory
A detailed listing that could include the types, locations, dates, volumes, equipment, classification systems, and usage data of an organization's records; the dissecting of each record to capture all pertinent information about the record to be used in its appraisal.

records management
The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities in the form of records.

records retention schedule
A list of records series maintained by all or part of an organization, together with the period of time that each series is to be kept.

records survey
A broad overview of the quantity and type of records within an organization, which is usually completed prior to a detailed inventory.

retention
An aspect of records management that determines how long records need to be kept.

retention period
The length of time a record must be kept to meet administrative, fiscal, legal, or historical requirements.

retention schedule
A comprehensive list of records series, indicating for each the length of time it is to be retained and its disposition.  

security copies
Additional record copies created as protective measure; also known as backup copies.

source documents
Paper documents that contain information to be converted to electronic records.

student record
Records that are directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a part acing for an agency or institution, if certain conditions are met.

tagging
A specific piece of metadata- keyword term or phrase- that is assigned to a content object for use in browsing or searching. The process of tagging generally refers to the ability of users to collaboratively add their own descriptive tags to information.

total retention
The amount of time a records series is to be stored in active and inactive storage.

trigger event
Something that must occur before a retention period begins to run. Related: event-based disposition.

unit-specific retention schedule
A unit-specific retention schedule prepared specifically for a unit in an organization. It lists only those record series that a given unit maintains with unequivocal retention designations for each.

vital records
Records that are fundamental to the functioning of an organization and necessary to continue operations without delay under abnormal circumstances.

vital records program
A set of policies and procedures for the systematic, comprehensive, and economical control of losses associated with vital records.


Definitions were collected from a number of sources, including

  • ISO 15489-1:2001

  • Franks, P. (2013). Records & Information Management. Chicago: Neal-Schuman.

  • Saffady, W. (2009). Managing Electronic Records. 4th ed. Lenexa: ARMA International.

  • Montaña, J. (2010). How to Develop a Retention Schedule. Overland Park: ARMA International.

  • Stephens, D. (2010). Records Management: Making the Transition from Paper to Electronic. Overland Park: ARMA International.

  • Saffady, W. (2016). Records and Information Management: Fundamentals of Professional Practice. 3rd ed. Overland Park: ARMA International

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