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University of Glasgow Effective Records Management Project Reports

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									Effective Records Management Project

Interim Progress Report

UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW

Effective Records Management Project Interim Progress Report to JTAP
1. Introduction
The overall aim of the project is to provide tools and protocols for the effective management of information in the digital order, with particular attention to information held in a document-based form. It builds on the principles outlined in the University's Information Strategy and on the experience of existing electronic document initiatives within the University. The project draws on the principles of records management which have been successfully applied to paper documents. The project team is based within the University Archives and Business Records Centre and the work is being carried out as an integrated part of the University’s established records management programme. The financial support provided by JTAP for this specific project is thus complemented by the University’s long-standing support for the work of records management across the institution. A full description of the project’s aims and its projected deliverables is contained in Appendix A of this report. The project recognises the fundamental importance of the educational component of its work, both to the successful implementation of the demonstrator system and to ensuring that the implementation of that system contributes to the broader goal of developing an “Information Culture” within the University community.

2. Development Strategy
The broad design principles which underpin the project’s work, and the development and implementation strategy which is informed by those principles, are outlined in Appendix B of this report. The implementation strategy divides the project’s work into three broad phases, with the qualification that some of the tasks identified will overlap the time boundaries assigned to these phases, and indeed some tasks will run almost throughout the duration of the project: i. a phase based on the creation of structured documents using Microsoft Word and their subsequent direct conversion to HTML-encoded forms; ii. a phase in which more rigorously structured Word documents will be “up-converted” to standards-based SGML-encoded forms, which in turn will be translated into a range of delivery formats, one of which will be HTML; iii. a phase in which the project begins to exploit the opportunities offered by delivery in XML-encoded forms, and the possibilities for more sophisticated presentation of documents, linking between objects, and client-based processing of documents. An outline timetable for development and implementation based on this strategy is contained in Appendix C, “Implementation Overview”.

3. Staffing
The following staff have been employed full-time on the Effective Records Management Project: Ms Julie Cargill (from April 1998), Software Engineer. Responsible for the development of software tools for document creation, transformation and delivery.

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Mr Pete Johnston (from October 1997), Analyst-Programmer. Responsible for information analysis and modelling. Mr Alan Kerr (from October 1997), Training and Documentation Officer. Responsible for documentation of tools provided, user education and support. In practice, there is considerable overlap in these three roles and tasks have been assigned to members of the team with a large degree of flexibility according to the requirements of the project at different stages of its development and with consideration for the workloads of the individuals concerned. The following staff are employed part-time on the Project: Ms Claire Johnson (from September 1997), Senior Records Manager. The following members of staff are not formally funded through the JTAP Project, but are playing an active role in its management and in the development work: Professor Michael Moss, University Archivist. Project leader. Mrs Lesley Richmond, Acting Director of Archive Services. Dr James Currall, Information Strategy Advisor and Head of User Services, Computing Service. The full project team (i.e. all of the above individuals) has met on a regular basis (at least every two or three weeks) to monitor progress and to discuss development work.

4. Records Management
Effective management of information in the digital order builds on the effective management of the paper order and on the principles established in the University's Information Strategy. It also draws on the established principles of management for paper based records which are linked intrinsically to its integration with the digital order. The initial survey phase, completed through a part time secondment from the Royal Bank of Scotland, ended on 31 January 1997. The vacancy for a full time senior records manager was not filled until Claire Johnson commenced work in September 1997. At present the team consists of Claire Johnson (Senior Records Manager) and Jean Crawford (Records Manager). A third Records Manger post is presently vacant. The offices that have been covered initially are: the Principal’s Office, Vice Principals’, Finance Office, Personnel Office and Court Office. Each paper filing scheme required survey and redevelopment, and adaptation to encompass the digital storage of documents. Each necessitated a phased implementation project, which is currently in progress. Regular audit is included within the timetable. This accurate analysis and survey of the information content of paper-based and electronic records is critical to the establishment of standards for metadata and authority file content for the digital order. Paper files are ordered according to function, activity and transaction, which is mirrored in digitally stored records. Additionally the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine and Research & Enterprise have received the assistance of the RM team. It is intended to compile a Best Practice Records Manual for the University, which will require regular review and updating of file creation, use and retention practices. A staffed Records Store has been established and will be run jointly by the RM team and Archives staff.. The Records & Information Management Intensive Programme (RIMIP) is an externally marketed training course and will continue to be a part of the RM responsibilities.

5. Pilot User Group and Sample Document Set
The project identified the Information Services Committee and the sub-committees which service it, and the documents generated in the course of the operation of these committees, as
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Effective Records Management Project

Interim Progress Report

an appropriate pilot user group and sample document set for a demonstrator project for the management of electronic records.  The membership of these bodies is a clearly defined group of individuals, many of whom have a relatively high level of IT experience and awareness of the information issues which the ERM project seeks to address. The project could therefore expect a high level of critical feedback on their work.  The documents generated within the work of these committees consist of a limited number of document types with well-defined distribution patterns and uses. They contain little information of a sensitive or confidential nature and have no specific restrictions on access and use within the University. Nevertheless, they are broadly representative of the document-based information held elsewhere and the management of these documents requires that a wide range of generally applicable information management issues be addressed. Short interviews with current document creators were conducted during November 1997 and revealed that there was little standardisation of approach, either in the “style” of document presentation or in the techniques for their creation and distribution. However, the results of a basic analysis of samples of existing documents in paper and electronic form, supported by the existence of a (broadly) uniform operating environment giving access to common document creation and distribution tools, suggested that there was considerable potential for the development of a standardised approach, and indeed the suggestion met with positive responses from the document creators.

6. Information issues
At an early stage, the project team identified a series of general and inter-related “information issues” which must be addressed in the course of the project. During the first six months of the project, the focus has been principally on three of these areas:

Structured authoring
The structure of document-based information has traditionally not been explicit. Rather, it has been conveyed to human readers indirectly, through the use of presentational conventions. The changed IT environment has created new requirements for software tools to be able to manipulate the component parts of documents. For such software to be able to do so, structural information must be made explicit in a form which computer tools can access. The project team has developed specific tools (for a Microsoft Word environment) for the structured creation of instances of the document types identified in the initial survey. It has also sought to raise awareness of the principles behind these tools and the benefits of applying such techniques more generally, and as part of this work will shortly make available a set of three discussion papers on this area. As well as tools specific to the sample document set on which the demonstrator system will be based, the project is, wherever possible, seeking to make available tools of a more general applicability.

Metadata
The significance of metadata is brought home to most users of electronic information through their efforts to locate resources (or have resources which they have created made locatable by other users) via the World Wide Web. The change in the “publishing” environment which has accompanied the use of distribution tools such as the Web has placed upon the document creator new responsibilities which were previously the domain of other information professionals (publishers, cataloguers, indexers etc.). Tools are available to address the requirements of the new environment, but document creators must be educated in their use.

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From the perspective of the records manager or archivist, metadata represents vital contextual information about that document as an electronic record, and values for the content of some key metadata elements will be generated by the Records Management team in the course of their work in surveying paper-based documents. The project team has incorporated tools for the generation of a metadata in a standard form within the Word document creation tools. Further, it is intended to make such tools available in a form which will be of use to a constituency of document creators much larger than that concerned with the sample document set.

Authority files
It has been widely recognised within different areas of the University that a wide variety of applications require that the contents of certain fields or element types are drawn from an authoritative source, based on the rules prescribed by a recognised information authority. Several projects are in progress which are attempting to address questions of the content, structure and form of such authority files. With regard to authorities for personal information, the most important of these are the Human Resource Database project, the staff identity card project, and the Senate Office’s initiatives in developing a committee membership database and a staff database for use in the production of the University Calendar and Diary. Authority files for academic information may also be generated from the Student Records Improvement Project. In consultation with the Records Management team, the ERM project has identified its general requirements for information to be drawn from institution-wide authority files, and will focus next on the interfaces by which the content of such authority files may be made available to document creators. The project’s progress in this field will be to some extent contingent on the progress of other development work within the University.

7. Contacts
The project team has developed a co-operative working relationship with the Senate Information Project, which has been working on an Intranet-based system for the distribution of the papers of Senate, and is presently developing new procedures for the production of the University Calendar and Diary, both of which will rely heavily on information drawn from authority files. Within the University, contacts have been made with other individuals and projects involved in the broader fields of text processing, and the project has initiated a proposal for the establishment of a University-wide Text Processing User Group as a forum to share ideas and experiences. Alan Kerr has attended an SGML UK meeting in Swindon in November 1997 on XML and the associated standards, and a workshop on “Legal Issues on the Internet” organised by TALiSMAN at the University of Strathclyde in January 1998. Pete Johnston attended the SGML/XML 97 conference held in Washington, DC, in December 1997, and a workshop on “Information Security” organised by TALiSMAN at the University of Stirling in May 1998. Julie Cargill will attend the Microsoft Office and Visual Basic Solutions Conference in London in July 1998.

8. Education and dissemination
The project has established a Website (http://www.gla.ac.uk/Staff/Committees/Inf/ERM/ presently accessible only internally to the University of Glasgow) which describes the project’s objectives and approach and highlights the central information issues which it is attempting to address. All project documents, reports and information issues discussion papers are made

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available on this site, presently in HTML and RTF forms. When system components such as Word wizards and templates and SGML Document Type Definitions which are presently under test reach a stable state, they will be made freely available from this site. The first draft of a user guide for the Word document creation tools which have been developed is presently available. The project team is producing a series of discussion papers on the major information issues which the project is addressing. While some of these will be directed to a specialist audience, the majority are intended to be accessible to a broad audience of document creators and users.

9. Current work in progress
The project team is continuing the development of tools for the creation of structured documents in Microsoft Word. Existing tools are being modified for use in an Office 97 environment. Work is also continuing in the areas of metadata and the construction and use of authority files. A more rigorous process of analysis of the structure of the sample document set and the requirements for their processing will be conducted in association with the Senate Information Project with the aim of developing appropriate SGML Document Type Definitions (or customising appropriate externally supplied DTDs) for the encoding of the documents in a standards-based, non-proprietary form. An investigation of the requirements for version control is in progress, and the required modifications will be made to the Word tools. A discussion paper has been produced on the general requirements for access control, and this work will be developed to explore the mechanisms for implementing these requirements.

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Effective Records Management Project

Interim Progress Report

APPENDIX 1

Deliverables
Aims
This is a two year initiative, starting in Autumn 1997, based within the University of Glasgow Archives and Business Records Centre and funded by the JISC Technology Applications Programme (JTAP). The overall aim of the project is to provide tools and protocols for the effective management of information in the digital order, with particular attention to information held in a document-based form. It builds on the principles outlined in the University's Information Strategy and on the experience of existing electronic document initiatives within the University. It also draws on the principles of records management which have been successfully applied to paper documents. The proposal agreed by JTAP addressed two particular areas of information management: i. the management as electronic records of administrative documents generated within the University; ii. the management of documents originating outside the University. A third project area, addressing a financial management system, was dropped from the final proposal.

Deliverables
The deliverables will be: i. an implemented, fully documented demonstrator system which addresses the management of documents as electronic records; ii. a series of papers which explain the key issues and problem areas of information management that these tools and techniques seek to address; iii. a program of seminars and workshops which draw these issues and the project’s efforts to address them to the attention of a broader audience, and set this work in the context of work being done elsewhere. The demonstrator system must address the full range of issues involved in the management of a “testbed” of electronic documents, from their creation through distribution and use to their disposal or retention. It should include facilities for cross-referencing, abstracting, citation, extracting, annotation etc. JISC places a high priority on the widest possible dissemination of the benefits of the project, not only of specific tools and techniques but also of the methodologies and principles which underpin their development. Also, the University’s Information Strategy emphasises that technological development alone has not succeeded in generating the sort of “information culture” whereby the University community understands the issues involved in effective information management. Further, technological changes themselves have brought with them often subtle and poorly understood changes in the responsibilities of those involved in the creation, use and disposal of records. All of these factors mean that the project’s deliverables must have an important educational component which addresses not only training in the practical use of the tools supplied, but an explanation of the principles of information management on which the development of those tools has been based.

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Effective Records Management Project

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There are three audiences for this element of the project:  the specific group of document creators and users who are working with the set of documents which form the “testbed” for the demonstrator system;  a larger group of document creators and users who are familiar with the routine use of the tools for the creation and distribution of electronic documents, but perhaps less informed on how to apply features of those tools effectively to address frequently encountered problems in information management;  a smaller group of specialists who are already engaged with these issues. The project recognises the fundamental importance of education to the successful implementation of the demonstrator system and to ensuring that the implementation of that system contributes to the broader goal identified by the Information Strategy of developing an “Information Culture” within the University community.

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Effective Records Management Project

Interim Progress Report

APPENDIX 2

Design Principles and Implementation Strategy
Design Principles
The ERM project recognises that: i. the direct transfer of existing paper-based practice to the digital order does not alone guarantee an improvement in information management. A close and critical examination of the way in which information is created, distributed, used and disposed of is a prerequisite to the selection of tools to perform those functions in the digital order. ii. the introduction of new technology and the transfer of information to the digital order frequently bring with them changes in the responsibilities of information creators and users. Often, such changes are not obvious and are not emphasised by system implementors who wish to stress transparency; as a consequence, they remain poorly understood by users, who try to apply existing practices to the new domain. Education, not only in the realm of training in the use of tools and techniques but also in the aspects of information science which underpin those tools, is vital if new techniques are to contribute to the creation of a community of effective and efficient information users. iii. new systems for the management of digital information must be based on formats of data storage and exchange which are supported by open, non-proprietary standards. (This does not preclude the use of appropriate vendor-supplied tools to operate on data held in standard forms.) This will result in:  platform independence : the system is not fundamentally dependent on hardware or software supplied by vendors, who may change the specification of their products at will or indeed cease support for or production of a product completely.  portability : the basic system infrastructure (though not necessarily any proprietary tools operating on that infrastructure) and the base data created via that infrastructure may be transferred to other systems operating different hardware and software.  sustainability : data is held in encoding formats whose stability is protected and which therefore provide the basis for the long-term integrity of information held in those formats.  extensibility : the use of non-proprietary formats of storage and exchange offers the best guarantee that whatever system is put in place now may be extended or modified to take advantage of future developments in technology. iv. new tools and techniques should be compatible with local institutional standards for the configuration of hardware and software, and should allow for the development of interfaces with existing local information systems. v. all design specifications, programme code and descriptive components such as Document Type Definitions, stylesheets, templates etc. will be made freely available to interested parties within the University of Glasgow and within other UK HE institutions (with the exception of any system components whose unrestricted availability would compromise the integrity and security of the system and/or the data, or the confidentiality of information to which access is legitimately restricted). vi. the maintenance costs of the implemented system, in terms of hardware, software and general system administration, should be minimised.

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Effective Records Management Project

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Implementation Strategy
i. The principle tool of document creation is Microsoft Word, and this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Word contains tools and features which allow for the sort of structuring of documents on which this strategy depends. The raising of awareness with regard to the responsibilities of the document creator is critical to successful implementation. Furthermore, the system should be able to handle documents originating from other sources and to withstand the replacement of Word by another tool for the creation of structured documents. ii. As their base storage format, documents will be encoded according to appropriate SGML Document Type Definitions (DTDs). SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language, is an open, non-proprietary standard. A DTD is a formalised description of the structure of a type of document. For the long term integrity of a document to be guaranteed, it should be accompanied by: an appropriate SGML declaration, the SGML DTD according to which it is encoded (with documentation on the semantics of that DTD), and any external entity files which are referenced. iii. Documents may be delivered to users in many different formats, not all of which may be predicted at present. These formats may include:  HyperText Markup Language (HTML)-encoded documents, for viewing with a Web browser;  Microsoft Rich Text Format (RTF), for viewing and editing in Word, or for printing from Word;  SGML-encoded documents, conforming to the base DTD, for viewing or editing with SGML-aware software;  SGML-encoded documents, conforming to an industry-standard DTD, for exchange with external users;  Extensible Markup Language (XML)-encoded documents, for viewing and processing via an XML-aware Web browser (XML is a subset of SGML optimised for delivery via the Web);  proprietary markup formats for specialised processing. iv. The transformations of documents between the base storage format and the various delivery formats should be performed by a technology supported by an open standard in the form of DSSSL, the Document Style Semantics and Specification Language. If it is intended that the archived version of a document can be represented in the same form(s) as it was initially delivered, then it will be necessary to store with the document the appropriate DSSSL stylesheet(s). v. Key components of document content should be based on terms drawn from “authority files” whose content is verified by the appropriate information authority (or authorities). vi. Access to information will be allowed on the principles established by the University’s Information Strategy, namely that such access is allowed and encouraged unless there is a need to protect the privacy of an individual, to protect the University interest, to meet licensing/compliance requirements, or to satisfy contractual obligations. vii.The educational component of the project will be carried out in co-operation with other members of staff responsible for technical training and the implementation of institutional standards.

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Effective Records Management Project

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APPENDIX 3

Implementation Overview
Date
Nov 1997 Jan 1998

Planning and dissemination
Identification of project goals and strategy, team members’ roles and responsibilities. Creation of development plan.

Core deliverables
Identification of pilot user/author group and sample document set. Investigation of current document creation, use, disposal processes. Basic document analysis. Development of tools for creation of structured documents in Word. Development of procedures for conversion of structured Word documents to HTML-encoded documents. Creation of Web pages for pilot user/author group. Demonstration of Word tools to pilot author group. User education in creation of structured documents. Implementation of initial HTML-based system for pilot user group. Modification of Word document creation tools to address version control requirements. Continued development of tools for creation of structured documents in Word. Rigorous document analysis. Development of SGML DTDs for sample document types. Development of procedures for conversion of structure Word documents to SGML-encoded documents. Development of procedures for conversion of SGML-encoded documents to delivery formats.

Information issues
Investigation of basic metadata requirements. Investigation of authority file requirements. User education in metadata concepts, authority file concepts. Integration of metadata generation tools within document creation tools. Investigation of search engines. Development of comprehensive referencing system. Investigation of version control requirements. User education in version control concepts

Feb 1998 Apr 1998

Construction of project Web site. Publication of initial discussion papers on key areas. Progress report to JISC.

May 1998 Jul 1998

Planning of workshops on key areas. Presentation of initial key area workshop on metadata. Continued publication of discussion papers on key areas.

Implementation of basic full-text search engine. Investigation of requirements for authorisation and authentication. Investigation of requirements for verification and encryption. Construction of authority files. Development of tools for maintenance of authority files. Development of interfaces for use of authority files by document creators.

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Date
Aug 1998 Oct 1998

Planning and dissemination
Presentation of second key area workshop on structured information. Progress report to JISC. Continued publication of discussion papers on key areas.

Core deliverables
Implementation of initial SGML-based system for pilot user group.

Information issues
Construction of authority files (continued). Development of tools for maintenance of authority files (continued). Development of interfaces for use of authority files by document creators (continued). Development of procedures for authorisation and authentication. Development of procedures for verification and encryption. User education in authorisation, authentication, verification and encryption concepts and techniques Implementation of element-specific search engine. Implementation of authorisation and authentication procedures for pilot user group. Implementation of verification and encryption procedures for sample document set. Investigation of requirements for retention and archiving. Development of procedures for retention and archiving.

Nov 1998 Jan 1999

Presentation of third key area workshop on authorisation, authentication, verification and encryption. Continued publication of discussion papers on key areas.

Continued development of SGML-based system for extra functionality.

Feb 1999 Apr 1999

Progress report to JISC.

May 1999 Jul 1999 Aug 1999 Oct 1999

Presentation of fourth key area workshop on archiving electronic records. Presentation of workshops on fully-integrated electronic records management system. Final report to JISC.

Development of client-centred processing tools for XML-based system. Modification of SGML-based system for XML-compliance. Implementation of initial XML-based delivery system.

Implementation of archiving. procedures for sample document set.

Notes
1. Some areas of the project’s work have been analysed in greater detail than others, with the result that some of the tasks identified in the table will require considerably more work than others. 2. The tasks presented in the central “Core Deliverables” column form a progression, from a Word-to-HTML system, to an SGML-based system, to a system using XML for delivery and enhanced client-based processing. There is rather more flexibility in the sequence in which the “Information issues” tasks are addressed. 3. Several of the above tasks will be carried out in close co-operation with other groups carrying out complementary development work within the University of Glasgow or with bodies having specialist responsibility for those functions. Indeed, the primary responsibility for some of these tasks may not lie with the ERM project team, though their progress will affect the ERM project’s schedule.

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Prepared by: Pete Johnston and Claire Johnson (Effective Records Management Project) Last modified on: Thursday 28 May 1998 Version: 1.3

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