Managing records

Records must be maintained systematically for the duration of the retention period specified by the University Records Retention Schedule.

This page presents guidelines for how to systematically create and organize records throughout their life span. Systematic maintenance begins from the time we create records to the time we "disposition" them—that is, recycle, shred or transfer them to University Archives, depending on their long-term historical value. To learn more about what kinds of records require retention, please visit the What is a Record page.

Did you know?

 "A school must maintain all required records in a systematically organized manner." (U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid Handbook (2017))

"Make sure to date all documentation, and ensure it is easily retrievable. If you scan paper documents for archival purposes, be sure to scan the complete document. We suggest that you have more than one person at your school who knows where the documentation is kept."

(U.S. Department of Education, The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting​ (2016))

Systematically organized records are capable of meeting the following tests over time:
Authenticity: The record can be proven to be what it purports to be, created or sent by the person purported and at the time purported.
Reliability: The contents of records can be trusted as a complete and accurate representation of the activities to which they attest.
Integrity: The record is complete and unaltered.
Usability: The record can be located, retrieved, presented, and interpreted in context.

3 steps to better records management

Develop, communicate and maintain a system

  • Learn about UO employees' recordkeeping roles and responsibilities - coordinate efforts with your unit's Records Steward
  • Maintain an inventory of records, regardless of format, that is updated annually
  • Identify ahead of time the location(s) where records will be filed and the person(s) responsible for the filing
  • Orient new employees to the filing system
  • Meet with separating employees to discuss records in their care


Create records using best practices

  • Document at or near the time of the activity is it representing 
    • Records should be made to document
      • what took place,
      • what was determined or recommended,
      • what instruction or advice was given,
      • when it happened,
      • who was involved; and/or 
      • the order of events and/or decisions
  • Include the date in the body of the documentation
  • Name/label to support retrieval 
    • When using dates in file or folder names, use established conventions yyyymmdd or yyyy-mm-dd
    • Use terms that describe the activity ("Software Implementation Project") - do not use personal names as file or folder names ("Bob Smith")
    • Add Tags, Title and extra information (“metadata”) to file properties.
  • Designate a record copy of each document, deliverable, product, or other record and keep it in an official file
  • Identify when additions, alterations, or deletions are allowed and who is allowed to make them
  • Reformat (digitize/scan) using best practices to ensure usability, authenticity, integrity, reliability for the duration of retention 

Special considerations when creating digital material

File and folder naming

  • When using dates in digital file or folder names, use best practices for the expression of dates yyyymmdd ​(example: 20200516-minutes or Minutes20200516)
  • Avoid spaces and special characters “\ /? “ [ ] & $ , . < >: * ” in file names​ 
  • Avoid the use of blank spaces in file names "Software Implementation Project.doc" becomes “Software20%Implementation20% Project.doc” – instead use dashes or, better, “CamelCase” convention​ "SoftwareImplementationProject.doc")
  • Use terms that describe the activity or role, rather than personal names to label file or folders (example: over time a file heading such as "Auditor-Reports" supports access more than a heading that relies solely on the person's name "Bob Smith")​
  • To manage version control, append “v1” “v2” etc. to file name rather than adding the terms “new” or “update”
  • Add Tags, Title and extra information (“metadata”) to improve retrieval – right click “properties”; or “save as”

Preferred file formats

To enable long term access to the bulk of record types created by universities (minutes, reports, studies, syllabi, project charters) the preferred file format for the final record version of documents is

  • .pdf/a (for born-digital material) or
  • .tiff (for newly created digital scans from paper originals)

If there is no capability to save the record as a .pdf/a, or storage volume restrictions to support .tiff, then .pdf is acceptable.


File routinely, store appropriately, disposition annually

  • Do not use desktop or removable devices to keep the authoritative version of the record (also known as the "record copy").
  • Do not create a folder each time a document is created -- first check to see whether there is an existing folder.
  • Keep reference and personal materials separately from official records.
  • Cull to remove drafts and working copies once final versions are generated.
  • Cut off file folders at the end of each year. Open new file folders and bring forward only the material that is still active.

Storage and Security Guidelines

Records should be stored consistently by the department in a manner that provides protection against misuse, misplacement, damage, destruction, or theft. Original, confidential, and sensitive documents should be stored in a secure location.

Storage areas will conform to OAR 166-020-0015 

  • Stored in fire-resistant structures,
  • Temperature and humidity should be maintained for optimal longevity of the records,
  • Adequate light and access is needed to allow for the retrieval of records,
  • Adequate ventilation and protection from insects and mold is needed,
  • Aisle space in public records storage areas should be kept free of obstruction,
  • Public records should not be stacked or piled directly on the floor of any storage area,
  • All public records should be shelved above initial flood level of any bursting pipe, leaky roof, sprinkler system, or other source of water,
  • No public records of enduring value should be stored where heat, breaks, drips, or condensation from pipes could damage them; where windows, doors, walls, or roofs are likely to admit moisture; or where they will be exposed to sunlight or extreme temperature variations.

Storage of digital material

Business information, records, and, more generally “electronically stored information,” generated, received, or kept in the course of conducting the university’s business should never be retained exclusively on removable media, such as USB keys, external drives, or non-networked locations, such as the local drive (usually called the “(C:)” drive).  

UO records should be maintained in UO-managed or licensed storage solutions.  These records should not be stored, forwarded, or otherwise maintained separately in external or non-university storage solutions where the university’s legal or other duties as the custodian of the records cannot be discharged. Learn why.

Where storage is provided by vendors, it is the office’s responsibility, as described in the Records Management Policy, to make certain that data is intelligible and accessible for the duration of the records’ assigned retention period. The storage selected should also meet the UO Minimum Security Procedures for devices.