Research Plan


Organizational Structure
Research Domains

Organizational Structure
The overall direction of the InterPARES research is determined by the International Team which acts as a steering committee for the project. In June 1999, the International Team ratified an Organizational Policy document which outlines the project's organizational structure.

According to the policy, the International Team guides the task force workplans, reviews task force findings, and synthesizes task force findings into new knowledge. It also acts as a forum to resolve administrative and organizational matters.

The International Team is led by the Project Director, Luciana Duranti, who is responsible for ensuring that the International Team and its members are working effectively to meet the project goal.  The Project Director directs the project from the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia with the assistance of the Project Coordinator (Tahra Fung) and the Technical Co-ordinator (Jean-Pascal Morghese).

The InterPARES International Team
Luciana Duranti, 
Project Director
Peter Horsman, 
(Chair) European Research Team
Terry Eastwood, 
(Chair) Canadian Research Team
Hans Hofman, 
European Research Team
Heather MacNeil, 
Canadian Research Team
Ken Hannigan, 
European Research Team
Babak Hamidzadeh, 
Canadian Research Team
Ian Macfarlane, 
European Research Team
John McDonald, 
Canadian Research Team
Torbjörn Hörnfeldt, 
European Research Team
Anne Gilliland-Swetland, 
(Co-Chair) American Research Team
Sue McKemmish, 
(Chair) Australian Research Team
Phillip Eppard, 
(Co-Chair) American Research Team
Rich Lysakowski, 
(Chair) CENSA Research Team
Ken Thibodeau, 
American Research Team
Bill Rhind, 
CENSA Research Team
Maria Guercio, 
(Chair) Italian Research Team
Wai-kwok Wan, 
(Chair) Asian Research Team
Paola Carucci, 
Italian Research Team
Du Mei, 
Asian Research Team

Led by the International Team, the InterPARES Project is composed of several national and multi-national research teams. These research teams are responsible for coordinating researchers, research partners, and InterPARES-related research activities within their jurisdiction. The research teams are also responsible for contextualizing InterPARES findings within their represented jurisdiction and for attracting support from the appropriate national and multi-national funding agencies.

The InterPARES Research Teams are: Canadian Research Team, American Research Team, European Research Team, Italian Research Team, Australian Research Team, Asian Research Team, Global Industry Research Team.

To address the complex variety of issues that affect the permanent preservation of authentic electronic records, the project research plan (see further below) has been divided into four interrelated domains of investigation. The International Team has drafted research questions appropriate to each domain. The research questions for each domain will be addressed by a dedicated task force. As well, ad hoc task forces may be created to address specific organizational or research issues as they arise. The task forces are composed of members of the International Team and the various Research Teams based on the skills and expertise required to accomplish the assigned tasks.


Research Domains
The goal of the InterPARES Project is to develop the theoretical and methodological knowledge essential to the permanent preservation of electronically generated records and, on the basis of this knowledge, to formulate model strategies, policies and standards capable of ensuring their preservation.

To meet this goal, the project's research plan has been divided into four interrelated domains of investigation. The International Team has drafted research questions appropriate to each domain. The research questions for each domain will be addressed by a dedicated task force. The task forces may revise or elaborate on the research questions as they carry out their investigations.

The findings of each task force will be analyzed by the International Team. The International Team is currently scheduled to meet three times yearly until December 2001. It will also carry out much of its work through a web-based discussion forum.

Although concrete findings from each domain are expected by December, 2001, there will likely be a need to continue work beyond this date given the depth of the problem domains as well as the ongoing, iterative process of designing, testing, and analyzing the various requirements and methodologies.

Domain I: Conceptual Requirements for Preserving Authentic Electronic Records
The goal of the research in this domain is to identify the elements of electronic records which are necessary to maintain the authenticity of those records over time. Using diplomatic principles, it will include an analysis of the elements of physical and intellectual form which may affect the authenticity and nature of an electronic record.

The research questions for Domain I are:

  1. What are the elements that all electronic records share?
  2. What are the elements that allow us to differentiate between different types of electronic records?
  3. Which of those elements will permit us to verify their authenticity over time?
  4. Are these elements for verifying authenticity over time the same as those that permit us to verify their authenticity in time (i.e. at the point at which they are originally used)?
  5. Can those elements be removed from where they are currently found to a place where they can more easily be preserved and still maintain the same validity?

The Domain I research questions will be addressed by the Authenticity Task Force.

Domain II: Appraisal Criteria and Methodology for Authentic Electronic Records
The goal of the research in this domain is to determine whether the evaluation of electronic records for permanent preservation should be based on theoretical criteria different from those applied to traditional records. It will also investigate how digital technologies have affected the methodology of appraisal.

The research questions for Domain II are:

  1. What is the influence of digital technology on appraisal criteria?
  2. In what ways does appraisal differ depending on the type of systems prevalent in each phase of computing?
  3. How do the media and physical form of the records influence appraisal?
  4. How do retrievability, intelligibility, functionality, and research needs influence appraisal
  5. Should restraints be imposed on the modification of systems at the time of appraisal?
  6. Does the life cycle of electronic records differ from that for traditional records?
  7. When in the course of their existence should electronic records be appraised?
  8. Should electronic records be appraised more than once in the course of their existence and, if so, when?
  9. How are electronic records scheduled?
  10. Who should be responsible for appraising electronic records?
  11. What are the appraisal criteria and methods for authentic electronic records?

The Domain II research questions will be addressed by the Appraisal Task Force.

Domain III: Methodologies for Preserving Authentic Electronic Records
The goal of the research in this domain is to identify and develop the procedures and resources required for the implementation of the conceptual requirements and the criteria identified in the first two domains.

The research questions for Domain III are:

  1. What methods, procedures and rules of long-term preservation are in use or being developed?
    1. Which of these meet the conceptual requirements for authenticity identified in Domain I?
    2. Which methods of long-term preservation need to be developed?
    3. Which of these methods are required or subject to standards, regulations and guidelines in specific industry or institutional settings?
  2. What are the procedural methods of authentication for preserved electronic records?
    1. In what way can archival description be a method of authentication for electronic records?
    2. In what way can appraisal and acquisition/accession reports be constructed to allow for the authentication of electronic records?
    3. What are the procedures for certifying electronic records when they cross technical boundaries (e.g., refreshing, copying, migrating) to preserve their authenticity?
  3. What are the technical methods of authentication for preserved electronic records?
  4. What are the principles and criteria for media and storage management that are required for the preservation of authentic electronic records?
  5. What are the responsibilities for the long-term preservation of authentic electronic records?

The Domain III research questions will be addressed by the Preservation Task Force.

Domain IV: A Framework for Developing Policies, Strategies and Standards
The goal of the research in this domain is to formulate principles that will guide the development of international, national, and organizational strategies, policies and standards for the long-term preservation of authentic electronic records. The distinction between international, national, and organizational policies, strategies and standards derives from the recognition that each cultural, juridical and organizational environment has its own needs which must be articulated in separate documents. The important thing is to ensure that the policies, strategies and standards are consistent with one another and this is only possible when they are inspired by the same principles.

The research questions for Domain IV are:

  1. What principles should guide the formulation of policies, strategies and standards related to the long-term preservation of authentic electronic records?
  2. What should be the criteria for developing national policies, strategies and standards?
  3. What should be the criteria for developing organizational policies, strategies and standards?


Depending on the research questions being addressed, the task forces are expected to use a wide variety of research methodologies including diplomatic analysis, structured interviews, and systems analysis and design. The common methodology which will guide all research activity, however, will be modeling.

As the task forces present their findings, they will be represented in templates or models with the aid of a knowledge engineering expert. Modeling methodology generally consists of two parts. The first is to graphically represent the entities involved. An entity can be abstract or concrete (ie. a concept, a software component, a person, a magnetic tape). What is modeled is the entity's attributes or characteristics and its relationship to other entities. The second component of modeling is identifying the activities in which the entities are involved. To support the modeling process, every entity, attribute, relationship, and activity named in the models must be consistently and rigorously defined in an interdisciplinary, international glossary.

The use of modeling serves several purposes. When many experts from different countries, disciplines and perspectives are working together, it is normal that much confusion arises from the use of similar expressions to mean different things and from the many assumptions, purposes, and interests that each one brings to the table. Modeling requires a rigorous and systematic determination of the meaning and implication of every term, concept or statement that is introduced.

The requirements for preserving authentic electronic records, as defined in the first two research domains, will be translated into models. These models will then be used to develop the methodologies and technologies required by the Institutional Investigators working at the various national archival institutions. These teams will test the models and present the results back to the International Team. These results will then be used, in turn, to refine the models.

This iterative process is expected to reveal certain basic principles upon which strategies, policies, and standards for the preservation of authentic electronic records can be drafted.

In addition to facilitating the communication and workflow within the InterPARES project, modeling is also expected to aid in communicating research progress and findings to other interested parties.



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