Steps 1 and 2: Appraisal and selection

This step is where you will decide, under The National Archives’ supervision, which records to keep for permanent preservation and which records you can delete. We ask you to follow the principle/philosophy of ‘macro-appraisal and selection’ – that is, not appraising and selecting all the records, one by one, but at a macro-level, for efficiency and scalability purposes.

To do this the following stages should be followed:

  1. Think and locate

Identify a collection of born-digital information to be appraised for historical value. The scope can be identified by: date, system (EDRM vs. shared drive), function, project, format. Based in this, research and analyse the collection to inform appraisal and selection decisions, looking at: past paper transfers, key events, function, administrative history, structure, format, age of information within scope.

  1. Check and do

Submit your selection criteria to your Information Management Consultant at The National Archives for consultation; this will be validated at the Records Decision Panel if necessary. Once confirmed, interrogate your scoped collection to identify information that meets the agreed selection criteria. Methods could include in-built search, metadata, file plan, creator.

  1. Agree with The National Archives

An agreement should be reached with The National Archives regarding the final appraisal and selection report and methodology. Using DROID, a free software developed by The National Archives, you will need to create the DROID CSV export listing all the records to be transferred as well as a separate DROID CSV export listing all the records to be disposed of.

Here are some useful tips to get started.

When thinking about your collection:

  • consult your Operational Selection Policies and Information Asset Register
  • think about what you typically transferred in the paper environment
  • think about particular functions/events
  • research your administrative history (you can use the Civil Service Yearbook) – context is key
  • gain an understanding of your organisation at a high-level by identifying:
    • location, such as EDRM systems, online/offline systems
    • size
    • formats, usually working file formats, but also data sets
    • dates – dates last modified, date of creation
    • hybrid collections (paper and digital)
    • exact duplicates  (this will reduce the amount of information you will have to review: on average there is 40% duplication in the digital environment)

The following resources can help you at this stage:

  • DROID is an open-source software developed by The National Archives and is free to download from our website
  • DROID stands for Digital Record Object IDentifier. It is an automatic tool that identifies the file formats, the sizes of the files, their last modified dates, the checksums (an alphanumerical string of characters unique for each records – if two records are exactly identical, the checksums will be the same), along with other information
  • DROID is a mandatory software required for the digital transfer process. Even if you use different software that has similar capabilities you will still need to download DROID because a DROID CSV export is required at the end of steps 1 and 2 (Appraisal and selection), before you can proceed
  • If you have any questions, or are in need of any assistance, contact your Digital Transfer Adviser