Metadata Specifications
Derived from the Functional Requirements:
A Reference Model for
Business Acceptable Communications

In conformity with the functional requirements for evidence, we assert that evidence can only be made by compliant organizations using responsible, implemented and consistent recordkeeping systems. Records captured by such systems must be comprehensive, identifiable, accurate, understandable, meaningful and authorized. They must be maintained inviolate, coherent, auditable and removable. And to be used they must be available, renderable, evidential, exportable and redactable.

In addition to satisfying the requirements for evidence, business acceptable communications must carry metadata to satisfy the requirements of large scale, distributed implementations over long periods of time during which human memories of the contexts of creation will not suffice and software and hardware will have significantly changed.

The following reference model proposes a six layer structure of metadata:

designed to satisfy the functional requirement for evidence and the requirements of business acceptable communication and support the effective management of any record over long periods of time.

For more information, please refer to the following papers

Metadata Requirements for Evidence, by David Bearman, Archives & Museum Informatics, and Ken Sochats, University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences

Item Level Control and Electronic Recordkeeping, by David Bearman, Archives & Museum Informatics, DRAFT of a paper given at the 1996 Society of American Archivists Meeting in San Diego, CA, August 29, 1996.


Declares the data that follows to be a record, assigns values indicating the provenance of the record, and provides terms by which the contents of the record can be discovered.


Invokes controls over access to, and use and disposition of a record. Identifies restrictions imposed on access and use and where to resolve them.


Consists of metadata about data structure designed to permit the record to remain evidential over time and to be migrated to new software and hardware dependencies as necessary.


Identifies the provenance (i.e. the person, system, or instrument that is responsible for generating the record) of the record and provides data that supports its use as evidence of a transaction.


Contains the actual data engaged in the transaction.


Documents evidentially significant uses of the record subsequent to creation; typically these will include indexing, redacted releases, and record disposition/destruction under record retention authority, but other uses (for eyes only viewing, etc.] may be recorded. This layer occurs at the end of the physical record to permit adding of entries without having to open the record.

* Note: Although it is possible to conduct a transaction that adds no new data content to existing records (e.g., only forwards pre-existing material, without so much as a cover note], and it is possible to have transactions which do not incorporate previously existing records, it is not possible to have a transaction without any content. Thus the "Record" cluster is mandatory, although the metadata items in it are both optional. The "Content" level is therefore also mandatory.

Last Modified: 9/18/96

MAIN MENU | Literary Warrant | Functional Requirements | Production Rules | Glossary