23 Core Research Questions (that Co-investigators have to be able to answer at the completion of their investigation)

  1. What activities of the creator have you investigated?

  2. Which of these activities generate the digital entities that are the objects of your case study?

  3. For what purpose(s) are the digital entities you have examined created?

  4. What form do these digital entities take? (e.g., e-mail, CAD, database)
    1. What are the key formal elements, attributes and behaviour (if any) of the digital entities?
    2. What are the digital components of which they consist and their specifications?
    3. What is the relationship between the intellectual aspects and the technical components?
    4. How are the digital entities identified (e.g., is there a [persistent] unique identifier)?
    5. In the organization of the digital entities, what kind of aggregation levels exist, if any?
    6. What determines the way in which the digital entities are organized?

  5. How are those digital entities created?
    1. What is the nature of the system(s) with which they are created? (e.g., functionality, software, hardware, peripherals etc.)
    2. Does the system manage the complete range of digital entities created in the identified activity or activities for the organization (or part of it) in which they operate?

  6. From what precise process(es) or procedure(s), or part thereof, do the digital entities result?

  7. To what other digital or non-digital entities are they connected in either a conceptual or a technical way? Is such connection documented or captured?

  8. What are the documentary and technological processes or procedures that the creator follows to identify, retrieve and access the digital entities?

  9. Are those processes and procedures documented? How? In what form?

  10. What measures does the creator take to ensure the quality, reliability and authenticity of the digital entities and their documentation?

  11. Does the creator think that the authenticity of its digital entities is assured and, if so, why?

  12. How does the creator use the digital entities under examination?

  13. How are changes to the digital entities made and recorded?

  14. Do external users have access to the digital entities in question? If so, how, and what kind of uses do they make of the entities?

  15. Are there specific job competencies (or responsibilities) with respect to the creation, maintenance and/or use of the digital entities? If yes, what are they?

  16. Are the access rights (to objects and/or systems) connected to the job competence of the responsible person? If yes, what are they?

  17. Among its digital entities, which ones does the creator consider to be records and why?

  18. Does the creator keep the digital entities that are currently being examined? That is, are these digital entities part of a recordkeeping system? If so, what are its features?
    1. Do the recordkeeping system(s) (or processes) routinely capture all digital entities within the scope of the activity it covers?
    2. From what applications do the recordkeeping system(s) inherit or capture the digital entities and the related metadata (e.g., e-mail, tracking systems, workflow systems, office systems, databases, etc.)?
    3. Are the digital entities organized in a way that reflects the creation processes? What is the schema, if any, for organising the digital entities?
    4. Does the recordkeeping system provide ready access to all relevant digital entities and related metadata?
    5. Does the recordkeeping system document all actions/transactions that take place in the system re: the digital entities? If so, what are the metadata captured?

  19. How does the creator maintain its digital entities through technological change?
    1. What preservation strategies and/or methods are implemented and how?
    2. Are these strategies or methods determined by the type of digital entities (in a technical sense) or by other criteria? If the latter, what criteria?

  20. To what extent do policies, procedures, and standards currently control records creation, maintenance, preservation and use in the context of the creator’s activity? Do these policies, procedures and standards need to be modified or augmented?

  21. What legal, moral (e.g., control over artistic expression) or ethical obligations, concerns or issues exist regarding the creation, maintenance, preservation and use of the records in the context of the creator’s activity?

  22. What descriptive or other metadata schema or standards are currently being used in the creation, maintenance, use and preservation of the recordkeeping system or environment being studied?

  23. What is the source of these descriptive or other metadata schema or standards (institutional convention, professional body, international standard, individual practice, etc.)?

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