Capturing RecordsWhen documents need to be captured as a "University record"
Having created a record, it is important to capture that record in a way that can be found and used in the future. Similarly, when you receive some document on behalf of the University, such as a letter, email or report, it should also be captured.
On the academic side, records tend to be created as a matter of course for the personal reference or use of a staff member or their team. It is equally important to the University as an institution that such records be captured and preserved as part of the "institutional memory" of the University. By utilising the University's recordkeeping system, TRIM, you ensure on a personal level that your work is preserved in a permanent, secure and well-supported environment.
As a general guide, you should capture records in all of the following situations:
- When you create any record in the course of your University role that could be relevant again in the future, either to you or someone else - including records that would help replicate or re-establish the operations of your area.
- When legal or regulatory requirements demand you keep records.
- When you document the steps behind a decision, exercise of responsibility or transaction.
- When a record has been received from or sent outside the University.
- When you document a change to policy, procedure or operational methodology.
Records capture should be a routine part of each person's University role, and integrated into standard operations and business processes at every level of the institution. The failure to capture records in official systems leads to personal stores of records that often remain uncontrolled and inaccessible to others who may need them - which is particularly problematic in a decentralised and autonomous University environment.
Just as common sense applies when working out what level of formality or detail should be used in creating a record, common sense applies when assessing what needs to be captured in the University's record keeping system. In short, the University has an obligation to capture any documents that contain information or evidence of enduring value: anything that shows or explains what we do as an institution. If you create or receive any document that contains information of continuing value to the University, you must retain and capture it as a "University record".
State Records endorses Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) which provides for routine destruction of drafts, duplicates and publications that contain no information of continuing value to the University.
Given our strict record-keeping requirements under the State Records Act, it can sometimes be more helpful to think about what doesn't need to be captured under NAP guidelines. For instance:
- Drafts: You generally don't need to keep every draft or old version of a document, unless the older versions actually inform the decision making process - such as drafts that were distributed to co-workers for comment and came back with remarks that helped guide your decision. You should also retain drafts of contracts and other legal documents, which can provide important evidence of your negotiation process. TRIM can manage revisions for you.
- Unimportant/routine administrative documents: You don't need to keep every shred of day-to-day administrative documentation that has only short term relevance - such as phone messages, rough notes or calculations that lead to more final documents. Again, common sense should prevail: if you get a phone message from someone who is engaged in a dispute with the University, it may be a smart idea to keep the message as possible evidence in the dispute; but if a phone message is routine, it is unnecessary.
- Copies and published documents: You don't need to keep duplicate copies of material, or published materials unless they form an integral part of your file.
If you give your files and/or important documents a presence in TRIM, they are easily traceable, and will be archived or disposed of once you are finished with them. Each document registered in TRIM has associated metadata which acts as a tag for later searches.
TRIM has the ability to associate metadata with your documents. Such information acts as a tag for later searches, by you or someone else. This metadata can include a name and description for the document, its author, the document type, when it was created, and other information that helps contextualise the document. This information can help greatly in locating the record later - for instance, if the only identifying feature you can remember about a certain document is the fact that it was a letter that you received from a professor in China, that ought to be enough to find the document through a search if the document has been well described (or "tagged") in the system.
For more information about the TRIM system, refer to the TRIM website or speak with someone in University Archives, Records and Collections.