Research Questions and Findings of the Authenticity Task Force

Research questions:

  • What are the elements that all electronic records share?

  • What are the elements that allow us to differentiate between different types of electronic records?

  • Of those elements, which will permit us to verify their authenticity over time?

  • Are the elements for verifying authenticity over time the same as those that permit us to verify their authenticity in time; that is, at the point at which they are originally created and transmitted?

  • Can the 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 Authenticity Task Force developed a Template for Analysis of electronic records on which it based its questionnaire (Case Study Interview Protocol) for the case studies, and two sets of authenticity requirements:

  1. Benchmark Requirements, which support the presumption of the authenticity of electronic records before they are transferred to the preserver’s custody and
  2. Baseline Requirements, which support the production of authentic copies of electronic records after they have been transferred to the preserver’s custody.

In addition, main findings of the Authenticity Task Force include the following:

  • Electronic records are deeply embedded within the specific juridical-administrative, provenancial, procedural, documentary, and technological contexts in which they are created.
  • Most contemporary records systems are a hybrid of electronic and paper records.
  • Few explicit measures are employed to ensure the authenticity of electronic records.
  • Measures that ensure authenticity are generally procedural.
  • The only way of preserving authentic electronic records over the long term is to make authentic copies of them.
  • Archival description is the best method of collective authentication of an archival aggregation of electronic records.

The Authenticity Task Force Final Report provides an account of all aspects of research in this domain, detailed explanations and recommendations for further research.


Public documents for the Authenticity Task Force are located here.


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