Systems of appraisal for the management of research records – content, value and contingency

Date01 August 2000
Publication Date01 August 2000
AuthorJames Whitman
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Systems of appraisal for the
management of research records
– content, value and contingency
One of the key issues that affects practitioners is the question of selection and the
relationship this bears to records content and an evaluation of the long term value
of collections of records. Appraisal has been the means developed by records
management and archives to deal with this problem. In this respect, the aim of
this paper has been to describe those theories of appraisal that are currently most
influential in highlighting the choices and pathways that each present to those
actively engaged in research, or in designing recordkeeping systems to manage
research records. The conclusion is that the claims to singularity and indepen-
dence that these perspectives represent will not be maintained during the course
of dealing with the complex contingencies encountered when managing real
recordkeeping systems. The alternative is to evaluate the strengths and difficulties
that each represents and on this basis, develop appraisal strategies that most effec-
tively meet the requirements of the wide range of interests likely to be involved.
This paper developed out of recent research into the management of
research records within Library and Information Science (Hare et al) –
one of the key purposes of which was policy development in this area of
practice and to argue for its importance to research. The stimulus for
this paper belonged in particular to perspectives gained from historical
accounts of the development of archival theories of appraisal which is,
of course, also a process central to the management of records. What
appeared to distinguish requirements for systematic records management
and what was absent from much of the actual management of records in
research was exactly this concept of appraisal. Having stated this rela-
tionship, the views expressed are the author’s own, as both a records
Records Management Journal, vol. 10, no. 2, August 2000, pp. 87–101
Records Management Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, August 2000
© Aslib, The Association for Information Management.
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1988, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in
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Aslib, The Association for Information Management
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