reliability (record) [English]

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ IP2 · The trustworthiness of a record as a statement of fact.

General Notes

A record is reliable when it can stand for the fact it is about and is established by examining the completeness of the record's form and the amount of control exercised on the process of its creation.

Other Definitions

  • IP2 Dictionary (†242 ): n. ~ The records ability to serve as reliable evidence. [Archives] n., An attribute of any system that consistently produces the same results, preferably meeting or exceeding its specifications. The term may be qualified, e.g., software reliability, reliable communication. [Computer and Information Sciences] n., The ability of a computer system to perform its required functions for a given period of time. It is often quoted in terms of percentage of uptime, but may be more usefully expressed as MTBF (mean time between failures). [Computer and Information Sciences] n., The quality of being sufficiently accurate and authentic to serve as the basis for a decision or action; worthy of trust. [General Dictionaries]
  • SAA Glossary 2005 (†241 ): n. (reliable, adj.) ~ 1. The quality of being dependable and worthy of trust. – 2. The quality of being consistent and undeviating. – 3. Diplomatics · Created by a competent authority, according to established processes, and being complete in all formal elements. – rely, v. ~ 4. To have confidence in; to believe in. Notes: Reliability is a relative concept associated with authenticity, accuracy, sufficiency, completeness, integrity, consistency, and dependability. In general, reliability is synonymous with trustworthiness. It takes on narrower senses in different contexts. A system is reliable2 if it produces consistent results. A calculator that always reports that 2 × 2 = 4 is reliable; one that occasionally reports 2 × 2 = 5 is not. In diplomatics, a record is reliable3 only if it was created by someone with appropriate authority, if it was made following proper procedures, and if all information and steps were finished. In this sense, reliability does not ensure the accuracy of the content of a record.
  • Ward and Street 2010 (†281 p. 801, definition in case study research): Reliability refers to the consistency and stability of research results and is one of two foundational elements (the other being validity) in conducting rigorous research. Reliability assesses the extent to which the results and conclusions drawn from a case study would be reproduced if the research were conducted again. Reliability in case study research is normally addressed through three techniques: (1) triangulation, (2) interrater reliability, and (3) an audit trail.


  • Duranti 1995 (†279 p. 6): Reliability refers to the authority and trustworthiness of the records as evidence, the ability to stand for the facts they are about…. As [a record] takes part in some action, it is seen as evidence of it, that is, as its mirror and proof. The value of such evidence, in terms of its validity and weight, depends on the reliability of the record. A record is considered reliable when it can be treated as a fact in itself, that is, as the entity of which it is evidence. For example, a reliable certificate of citizenship can be treated as the fact that the person in question is a citizen. Reliability is provided to a record by its form and procedure of creation. (†353)
  • Duranti and Rogers 2012 (†278 p. 525): Reliability is defined as the trustworthiness of a record as a statement of fact, based on the competence of its author, its completeness, and the controls on its creation. (†351)
  • Duranti and Rogers 2012 (†278 p. 525): According to digital forensics, reliability is the trustworthiness of a record as to its source, defined in a way that points to either a reliable person (for computer-stored documents) or a reliable software (for computer-generated documents), or both. If the source is a software application, trustworthiness will be more easily established if the application is open source, because the source code will be publicly available. This will allow the processes of records creation and maintenance to be forensically authenticated either by describing a process or system used to produce a result, or by showing that the process or system produces an accurate result. Open source software allows for both types of authentication. (†352)
  • Duranti, Suderman, and Todd 2008 (†280 p. 6): [Reliability] can be inferred from two things: the degree of completeness of a record’s documentary form and the degree of control exercised over the procedure (or workflow) in the course of which the record is generated. Reliability is then exclusively linked to a record’s authorship and is the sole responsibility of the individual or organization that makes the record. (†354)
  • Duranti, Suderman, and Todd 2008 (†280 p. 7): A trusted record-making system should be used to generate records that can be presumed reliable. A trusted record-making system consists of a set of rules governing the making of records and a set of tools and mechanisms used to implement these rules. To generate reliable records, every record-making system should include in its design integrated business and documentary procedures, record metadata schemes, records forms, record-making access privileges and record-making technological requirements. (†355)
  • International Records Management Trust 2009 (†572 s.v. reliability): In a records and archives environment, the quality of being trustworthy; in reference to records, reliability is confirmed by ensuring that a record was created by a competent authority according to established processes and that the record contains all the necessary elements of an official record. (†1031)