National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Integrity

Integrity is an important concept in determining whether a record is authentic or not. It means that a record must be intact and not changed or corrupted in such a way that the original meaning is obscured. Changes are acceptable to a certain degree, provided they do not detrimentally affect the original meaning or function of the record.

The character of digital records means that their integrity is at a higher risk than is traditionally the case with analogue records, such as when files are migrated to use newer versions of software.

Take for example the so-called ‘riskmaps’ used by provincial authorities that use colour to depict areas where dangerous goods are stored. On these maps, colour has a significant meaning and must therefore be preserved in the same way as originally used. Should a format conversion for this record result in changes to the colour schema (e.g. red became green), then the integrity of the record would be seriously damaged.