The inevitability of digital transfer How prepared are UK public bodies for the transfer of born-digital records to the archives?

Özdemir L.

RECORDS MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, cilt.29, ss.224-239, 2019 (ESCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier

  • Cilt numarası: 29
  • Basım Tarihi: 2019
  • Doi Numarası: 10.1108/rmj-09-2018-0040
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.224-239


Purpose This paper aims to assess how prepared public bodies are for the transfer of born-digital records to the National Archives (TNA) of the UK in line with the reduction in the transfer rule from 30 to 20 years. Design/methodology/approach The change in the transfer rule means that records of UK public bodies will be transferred to TNA for permanent preservation at 20 years as opposed to 30 years old. This move, which has been described as a major change that is going to be introduced in a manageable and affordable way (20-year rule, The National Archives), will inevitably witness the transfer of born-digital records to the archives much earlier than would have been the case if the change in the transfer rule had not been made. This paper reports on research carried out in the winter of 2017 on the extent to which UK public bodies are prepared for the transfer of born-digital records to TNA. Research was based on a survey of 23 public bodies which included ministries, charities and non-departmental public bodies. The target population was predominantly public bodies that had the highest level of transfer of records to TNA. The justification for this lies in the fact that these bodies, amongst others, transfer the most records to TNA, thus it would be interesting to gain an insight into how prepared these relatively larger public bodies are with regard to born-digital transfer. The remaining public bodies were chosen randomly amongst non-ministerial departments. The primary areas under analysis are plans of public bodies for the transfer of born-digital records, processes for transfer to be undertaken such as selection, appraisal etc., the use of technology in sensitivity review and the trigger date for the transfer of records. Findings An analysis of the research findings found that while a few UK public bodies surveyed had transferred datasets within the framework of the TNA Government Datasets (NDAD) initiative or as part of an inquiry, only one public body had transferred other born-digital records to TNA. The findings also reveal that most public bodies are yet to plan for, or to adjust, their current archival processes to take into account the different mind-set and skills required for the transfer of born-digital records. The level of preparedness is therefore limited primarily because public bodies have yet to undertake a transfer of born-digital records to the archives. The research findings also revealed that public bodies had not as yet made adjustments or changes to current practice to take into account the issues relating to the processing of born-digital records prior to transfer.