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ISO/TC 46/SC11 has published three pieces of work related to metadata for records. These are known as the ISO 23081 series.

  • The first ISO 23081-1:2017 Information and documentation - Records management processes - Metadata for records - Part 1: Principles is a principles-based standard that links requirements for metadata to the core professional statements in the foundational ISO 15489-1.
  • The second ISO 23081-2:2021 Information and documentation — Metadata for managing records — Part 2: Conceptual and implementation issues is a practical approach to implementation, providing discussion on implementation options, managing metadata, and a conceptual model for defining metadata elements for records.
  • A third ISO/TR 23081-3:2011 Information and documentation -- Managing metadata for records -Part 3: Self-assessment method is a self-assessment checklist in Excel format to allow implementers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their metadata schema against the requirements of the standard.


These standards provide generic guidance that will apply in any implementation environment. The key requirement is defining the metadata needed to show that an electronic object has been managed as a record of all the events that may take place during its physical existence: that is, that the digital object can be interpreted in the context of the business and people that do the business, and that support assertions about the characteristics of integrity, authenticity, reliability, and usability.  It is a cornerstone document for designing technical specifications for records that will be applied in specific technological applications and can be used to support assertions of authenticity and reliability at a point in time, and in all business and records environments.


Distinct from simply describing digital records, these standards ensure that the actions taken on records are appropriately defined and managed. Being able to tell the story about who did what, and to which digital object is the core of reliable digital communications.


These standards are focused firmly on the future.  The intent is to enable innovation in the way the market designs business solutions for managing records and to enable organizations to develop records solutions that suit their specific requirements and implement them using innovative technical solutions.