Providing Grounds for Trust: Developing Conceptual Requirements for the Long-Term Preservation of Authentic Electronic Records

  • Heather MacNeil


Since 1999, the International Research in Permanent Authentic Recordsin Electronic Systems (InterPARES) Project has been investigating the issues associated with the long-term preservation of authentic electronic records. The identification ofconceptual requirements for the verification of authentic electronic records is the responsibility of the InterPARES Authenticity Task Force. The work of the task force is being carried out in three stages: (1) identifying and defining, using contemporary archival diplomatics, the elements of an electronic record that are relevant to a consideration of its authenticity; (2) testing the validity of the elements through cases tudies of electronic systems; and (3) developing general and specific requirements for the preservation of authentic electronic records over the long term. This article reportson the work accomplished by the task force to date in each of the three stages.


Depuis 1999, le projet InterPARES (International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems) se penche sur les problèmes reliés à la conservation à long terme de documents électroniques authentiques. La formulation des exigences conceptuelles nécessaires à la vérification de l’authenticité des documents électroniques est sous la responsabilité du groupe de travail sur l’authenticité. Celui-ci a divisé ses tâches en trois étapes: (1) identifier et définir, enutilisant la diplomatique archivistique contemporaine, les éléments d’un document électronique qui sont liés à son authenticité; (2) vérifier la validité de ces éléments aumoyen d’études de cas de systèmes électroniques; et, (3) développer des exigencesgénérales et spécifiques pour la conservation à long terme de documents électroniquesauthentiques. Cet article présente le travail qui a été accompli jusqu’à présent par le groupe de travail dans chacune de ces trois étapes.

Author Biography

Heather MacNeil

Heather MacNeil is Assistant Professor of archival studies in the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, where she teaches arrangement and description, the management of current records, and multi-disciplinary perspectives on record trustworthiness. Before joining the faculty at U.B.C. in 1999, she worked as an archivist for the National Archives of Canada and as the project coordinator for the Bureau of Canadian Archivists’ Planning Committee on Descriptive Standards. She holds a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies (law, history, archival science) and is the author of Without Consent: The Ethics of Disclosing Personal Information Held in Public Archives (Scarecrow, 1992) and Trusting Records: Legal, Historical, and Diplomatic Perspectives (Kluwer, 2000). She currently chairs the Authenticity Task Force of the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) Project.

How to Cite
MacNeil, Heather. 2000. “Providing Grounds for Trust: Developing Conceptual Requirements for the Long-Term Preservation of Authentic Electronic Records”. Archivaria 50 (November), 52-78.

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