Data Protection – The law protecting the privacy of individuals by regulating access to confidential information held on them by both private and public organisations. You can read more the Information Commissioner’s guidance on Data Protection here, including the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as it applies in the UK.

Digital Records – Any recorded information created, received and maintained in electronic/digital format by an organisation or individual in the course of its activities. 

Electronic Records Management (ERM) – A digital environment for capturing electronic records and applying standard records management practices. Electronic Records Management supports the medium to long term information management needs of business. Software to provide an ERM system is available commercially. 

Freedom of Information (FOI) –The law regulating public access to official information held by public bodies as defined in the schedule of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 

Functions – The activities of the record creator and for which the records were created to support. It is important to establish the functions which records are created to support particularly as in most institutions organisational change is common and can lead to records and records creators being split.

Metadata – a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In records management it is information that puts a record in its context such as the date of creation, author, links to other records and departments. 

Records – Recorded information (documents) regardless of form or medium created, received and maintained by an agency, institution, organisation or individual in pursuance of its legal obligations or the transaction of business. 

Records Management – The procedures and practices employed to structure control and regulate records whatever their medium, electronic, paper or microform. The management of records ensures efficiency and economy in their use, storage and disposal and the selection of those of value for permanent preservation. 

Retention Schedules/Instructions – A retention schedule is an analytical list of record series, arranged either under the functions carried out by the creating organisation or under structural headings of a departmental organisation. The main purpose of the schedule is to record and implement the appraisal decisions which have been made, so that these decisions can be routinely put into effect. A secondary purpose may be to set out a list of the records series in a way which will illustrate the organisation’s activity. This is also sometimes called a disposal policy or schedule because it tells you when you can securely dispose of certain material. 

Third Party Deposit or Donation – This is the process by which an organisation arranges for its records to be stored in a specialist archive (this could be a local record office, university or specialist repository). This means that records are cared for by the specialist archive, but a formal agreement to outline who now owns and can access the archive is often required. A donation agreement would see the organisation handing over copyright and ownership to the third party.