Records Management

Records Management
What is a Record and Records Management

What is a record?

  • Creating and using records is a vital part of everyday University activities. Records are important and essential information assets of the University.
  • Records are defined as "recorded information", in any form and regardless of media, created or received by the University and used in delivering our core business functions and activities. It is the content and context, which is significant, not the format.
  • A record may consist of one or many documents, which make evident related activity, decisions or transactions to a single event in time.
  • The importance and value of records lies in their role as evidence of what has taken place. Records provide an accurate, authentic and complete account of the University's actions, transactions, decisions and commitments.
  • We need records to work effectively and demonstrate how we comply with our legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Some records may not be current, however they may be retained for evidential, informational and/or historical value for the longer term.
  • Records represent the University's collective memory, underpins our daily operations and supports the image we present to the outside world.
A record must be;
  • Authentic - is it what it says it is?
  • Reliable - is it trusted and accurate?
A record must have;
  • Integrity - is it complete, secure and unchanged?
  • Usability - is it accessible and understood over time?
  • Further details on standards and definition of a record are available here

What is Records Management?

  • Records Management is a process for the systematic management of information recorded on all media – traditionally paper and microfiche or film, but increasingly information held in electronic format including e-mails, web-based content and databases.
  • All records management programmes are based on the concept of the records lifecycle in which records are current from their creation and for as long as their administrative value remains at its highest. Further details on our "lifecycle" approach are available here.
  • Records become semi-current when their immediate administrative value declines, but they still provide some business value
  • When a record has ceased to have any administrative value at all, it is non-current.
  • Records management controls records at all stages of the lifecycle: from the point of creation through to their ultimate archiving or destruction.
University Records Management Policy
  • The University of Aberdeen recognises that the efficient management of records is essential to support its core functions, to facilitate its overall governance and management of all records produced or acquired by the University in the course of its business activities.
  • Records are vital both to the University’s current and future operations and, forming a major part of its corporate memory, must be managed in a systematic way, throughout their lifecycle; from creation or capture for active use, maintained for reference, and ultimately through appraisal to their secure destruction, or transfer to the University Archive.
  • The Records Management Policy together with the University Records Retention Schedules (currently being updated) provides the framework for the management of institutional records and for governing the periods for which institutional records are retained.
  • The University Records Management Policy is available on Policy Zone. 
Records Management Good Practice Guidance

File Naming Conventions

Save time and effort

Naming folders and files in a consistent, logical and predictable way means that information may be located, identified and retrieved quickly and easily.

Version Control Principles

Confusion over which version of your document is current?

The principles of version control helps you to manage multiple versions of th same document in a logical and consistent manner.

Safe & Secure Disposal

Disposal is an important part of good records management practice.

What should happen at the end of the retention period?

Guidelines for the disposal of records

Quick Links

Retention Schedules
  • The University is currently developing our records retention schedules to create bespoke retention schedules that reflect the specific needs of the University's business areas. Our retention schedules will be based on JISC guidance, which have been created specifically for Higher and Further Education Institutions. Until a bespoke retention Schedule has been agreed for a business area, the JISC retention schedule will apply. The Schedules can be found on the JISC website.
  • Bespoke Retention Schedules:
  • The University is subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and this necessitates the proper and effective management of institutional records.
  • A Code of Practice, issued by the Scottish Executive under Section 61 of the Act specifically requires organisations to have Records Retention Schedules covering all of their institutional records, with compliance with the S61 Code being viewed as indicative of whether an organisation has complied with the overarching legislation.

In the mean time, if you have any records management enquiries, please contact the University Records Manager for details;

T: 01224- 273175

Glossary of Terms
A - E


The process of evaluating an organisation's activities to determine which records have archival worth or evidential value and should be kept and for how long, to meet the needs of the organisation, the requirements of accountability and the expectations of researchers and other users of the records.


Records that are recognized as having permanent value (including historical and cultural) value. Archives provide evidence of the University's significant functions and activities, strategic developments, fabric and infrastructure throughout the life time of the institution.

Authentic record

A record which can be proven to be what it purports to be; to have been created or sent by the person purported to have created or sent it and at the time purported to have been created or sent.

Current Records

Those records which are being regularly used and actively worked with, for the conduct of business (see also 'records lifecycle').

Data Protection Act 1998

Provides legal rights to individuals with regard to the personal information held about them by others.


The process of eliminating or deleting records beyond any possible reconstruction.


The implementation of appraisal and review decisions. These comprise the destruction of records or the transfer of selected records to the Archive. They may also include the movement of records from one system to another (eg paper to electronic) or the transfer of custody of the records.


The smallest unit of filing, generally a single letter, form, report or other item housed in a filing system. Documents encompass paper, digital forms, files, emails, faxes, contracts etc.

Electronic Records

Records where the information is recorded, processed and retrieved by a digital computer; including text based word processed documents, email messages, spreadsheets, scanned documents, website documents and multimedia content.

F - M


A group of related documents, contained within a file cover and fastened together. A virtual file can be created for digital documents.

Finding Aids

Indexes or other lists, manual or automated, that are designed to make it easier to locate relevant files or retrieve information.

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Provides a general statutory right of access to information of any age and in any format held by Scottish public authorities, subject to a number of limited exemptions. The Act becomes law on 1 st January 2005.


All information that is not held in an electronic format and can be read without additional equipment. Includes files, maps and plans, and bound volumes.

Lifecycle of records

The lifecycle of records consist of three phases; current (actively being used to carry out day to day activities); semi-current (semi-active, where a record still has business value, but is referred to less frequently, or needs to be kept for evidential purposes, legal or regulatory purposes); non-current (inactive, where a record has ceased to have administrative business value and is appraised for destruction, or kept for permanent archive).


The format on which a record is held, ie paper, microfiche, microfilm, electronic, optical disc, magnetic tape etc.


Data about data. Descriptive, administrative or technical data which is applied to records to enable a system to find and retrieve records effectively and efficiently. Metadata adds context and builds relationships between records to aid understanding and interpretation of the content.


The act of moving records from one system to another, while maintaining the record's authenticity, integrity, reliability and usability.

N - R


The processes and operations used to ensure that authentic records are accessible, usable and understood over time.

Record Series

A collection of records having a common subject or theme or function eg annual accounts, invoices, committee minutes, Head of Department's correspondence files etc. A series is distinguished by the fact that it provides evidence of a particular process and as such may vary in size from a single document (eg University Strategic Plan) to many thousands in the case of invoices.


Those documents required to facilitate the business carried out by the University and retained for a set period to provide evidence of its decisions, transactions or activities. Records may be created, received or maintained in hard copy or digital format.

Records Management

The business function responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about University business activities and transactions in the form of records.

Records Survey

A systematic exercise to locate and identify all the records held by a particular business area.

Reliable record

A record is considered reliable if its content can be trusted as a full and accurate representation of the activities, transactions or facts to which it attests and can be relied upon in the course of subsequent actions, transactions and activities.

Retention Schedule

An index to different types of records, detailing how long they should be kept for, according to legal, regulatory, or operational requirements. For example, to meet VAT and taxation regulations, there is an obligation to keep most financial records for the current year +6, making the effective period of retention 7 years.

S - Z

Semi-current Records

Those records whose business value has declined, but which may still be referred to on an irregular basis (see also 'records lifecycle').

Version Control

A process which allows the precise placing of individual versions of a document within a continuum, particularly useful when seeking to identify and manage records which are subject to intensive redrafting, thereby enabling differences in authorship and content to be logged and controlled.

Vital Records

Those records crucial to the conduct of the University's business and without which the University would be unable to function should they be destroyed by fire, flood or any other catastrophe. Identification of vital records would form an integral part of any business continuity planning. These records are likely to be unique and irreplaceable or may need to be available immediately following a disaster.