Glossary - Information and Records Management - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Glossary of recordkeeping terms

Active Records

Those records required for the day-to-day functioning of an agency or person. Also referred to as current records. See also Inactive records.


Examination of the records against the GDA to determine the disposition.


The record is of permanent value and, once the retention period is complete, will be transferred to Archives New Zealand or, if the University has an agreement for deferred transfer, to a central University records repository.


A deliberate action which results in the registration of a record into a recordkeeping system. For certain business activities this action may be designed into electronic systems so that the capture of the records is concurrent with the creation of records.


The systematic identification and arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods and procedural rules represented in a classification system.


The knowledge necessary to sustain a record’s meaning or evidential value. Context describes the who, what, where and why of record creation and management.
Destroy The record may be destroyed by an approved method: for example, secure shredding, deleting the record from a shared drive once the retention period is complete.

Digital Signature

A signature in an imaging system which can be read by special software. The software can match key characteristics of a signature on different documents.
Disposal Disposal recommendations suggest what should happen to the record once it is non-current and its retention period is complete. Disposal does not mean destruction - it means disposition - “what happens to it”.


Recorded information regardless of medium or form (an email is regarded as a document).

Electronic Records

Records capable of being processed in a computer system and/or stored at any instant in a medium which requires electronic or computer equipment to retrieve them. Includes the digitised form of paper records.


General Disposal Authority for New Zealand Universities.

This General Disposal Authority (GDA) applies to all records created and received by New Zealand Universities and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee that are covered by the Public Records Act 2005.

Inactive Records Those records no longer required for the conduct of business and which may therefore be transferred to intermediate storage, archival custody, or be destroyed. See also Active records, Disposal.


This can be described as “data about data”. A fuller description is “structured information that describes and/or allows for finding, managing, controlling, understanding or preserving other information over time”.


The agency, office, or person of origin of records, i.e. the entity which created, received, or accumulated and used the records in the conduct of business or personal life. Also referred to as records creator.

Public Record

A record created or received by a public office in the conduct of its affairs. This includes records declared to be public records by the Governor-General and miscellaneous records. This does not include special collections (records collected for purposes such as research) or records created by the academic staff or students of a tertiary education institution, unless the records have become part of the records of that institution (PRA, s4).
Retain Permanently This material is identified as being of permanent value to the universities but does not meet the criteria for transfer to Archives New Zealand. This material will be transferred to a central University records repository.
Retain 3 copies as archives A specific disposal to be applied to publications. The reason for retaining three copies is so that one may be used for reference, one for copying and the third as a master that is never accessed unless one of the others is damaged, lost or destroyed.