Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Appendics > Paradigm records survey

Paradigm records survey

Dear Paradigm participant,

Prior to the first visit of the project staff it might be useful for you to think about what digital and paper records are routinely created in your office. We appreciate that you are very busy and therefore this is by no means compulsory. Rather these questions should be seen as a prompt sheet, encouraging you to think about the ways in which records are created, used and stored in your office.

It might be useful to clarify what we mean by a 'record'. A record is that which is created and kept as evidence of individual functions, activities and transactions. It can be in any format whether paper, photographic material, audio tape, maps, or increasingly, in the form of a digital file or object. To be considered evidence a record must possess content, structure and context and be part of a record keeping system. The Paradigm project is particularly looking at procedures for acquiring, managing and preserving records which are in a digital format. For more information about the project, visit

What does the office do?

What are the main functions and activities of a MP's London office? What kinds of tasks does the office routinely undertake?

What is the annual routine of the office? When is the office busy/quiet? Are there any events which generate many records?

Who creates the records?

How many members of staff are employed?

What are their key roles?

Record locations: where do you keep paper and digital records?

Where do staff store their digital and/or paper files?

Are records also created at a UK office or elsewhere?

Are records duplicated elsewhere?

How many members of staff are employed at the UK office? What are their key roles?

Does the MP also have further digital records on laptops or PCs at home?

Record types

What types of digital records are used in this office? e.g. word-processed documents, presentations, spreadsheets, databases, webpages, images, PDF, etc.

Roughly how much (in MB, GB) of each record type exists?

Are records created in both paper and digital formats? Are some in both formats? If so which is the master?

What kinds of records does the office create? e.g. speeches, correspondence, newsletters, memos, diaries, etc.

Is most of the correspondence of a routine standardised nature? What kind of topics and correspondents does it contain?

Record keeping systems: how are records maintained and managed through time

Are records kept centrally on a server or does each member of staff manage their own records on their local PC? Are some records kept locally and others centrally?

Is storage space for digital material ever a problem? Are limits imposed?

Are records routinely destroyed? Are there retention schedules which specify how long particular record types should be retained?

Is there an electronic records management system, or electronic document management system, in place?

Web pages:

How often are the web pages updated?

Are copies of previous versions kept?

Who is in charge of the website?

Are there any guidelines or policies in respect of the website?


How are personal emails organised? e.g. moved into email folders, saved to general folders alongside documents?

Are there any guidelines or policies in respect of email?

Are email and traditional correspondence managed together or separately?

Document files:

How are documents organised?

Are digital and paper records managed together?

What kinds of paper records are created? Are any documents purely in paper format? e.g. diaries, address books, etc.?

Can you provide a list of key records created (all formats)?

Are there any guidelines or rules to help manage the creation of records? Is some kind of version control used?

Are there file plans/ file classification schemes?

Document naming - how are documents named? Are they filed digitally in named folders?

What happens to non-current records?


Are some record types of a sensitive nature? (e.g. records which would be closed to researchers for some time, records subject to data protection legislation)

Are any of the records encrypted?

Do any of the records require passwords?

Copyright/Intellectual Property

Who owns the copyright of records held at the office? For example, do you have image files from freelance photographers? If so can copyright be traced?


Are the office computers networked, stand alone or laptops?

What kind of operating systems are used? e.g. Microsoft Windows XP, Linux, MAC OSX

What is the main software used for records creation?

Does your office use any unusual software?

Do computers have USB ports or CD writers which could be used to copy the material?

What technical support is available?

Who is responsible for IT?