Theoretical Framework and Literature Review in Graduate Records Management Research

By Kemoni, Henry N. | African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Theoretical Framework and Literature Review in Graduate Records Management Research


Kemoni, Henry N., African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science


Introduction

Most universities, colleges and schools offering graduate education and training in records and archives management require that students write a master's or doctoral thesis/dissertation. For example, the newly established Master of Philosophy degree programme in Information Sciences (Records and Archives Management) at Moi University, Kenya, requires students to undertake coursework, as well as write a thesis which is equivalent to 20 units of coursework. The full-time Master of Philosophy degree programme in Information Sciences (Records and Archives Management) option takes 24 months and extends over four semesters, and the programme consists of 55 lecture units or their equivalent. The first year of study is devoted to coursework, developing research proposal and to the practical project. In the second year, semester one is devoted to thesis work, while semester two is devoted to thesis work and coursework. Thus, the thesis takes 20 units, while coursework and the project take 35 units of the students' time.

Oliver (2004) points out that a thesis is a piece of academic writing which reports on a research study. However, there is much diversity in both the structure and the content of master's and doctoral theses. Oliver (2004) observes that the components of a research proposal include an overview of the context and related literature. The author further observes that one of the characteristics of a good thesis is adequate review of the literature, which is sufficiently contemporary to demonstrate the way in which the thesis is building upon contemporary research.

The key aspects of a research proposal include conducting an extensive literature survey, in order for the researcher to get acquainted with the selected research problem (Kothari 2004). The author opines that there are two types of literature--the conceptual literature concerning the concepts and theories, and the empirical literature consisting of studies made earlier, which are similar to the one proposed. Wisker (2001) points out that one of the positive features of a successful MPhil or PhD thesis is the candidate's engagement with the literature. Often, however, graduate students experience problems in writing their literature review chapter and choosing an appropriate theoretical model or framework for their research.

The discussion that follows defines the term records management and presents what may constitute a good chapter on literature review. It also highlights the role of theories and models in scientific research and some of the existing records management theories/models and their application in graduate research in the field.

Records Management

There is no universally accepted definition of the term "records management" and this is an indication that the discipline of records management is dynamic (Yusof and Chell 1999). However, ISO 15489-1 (2001) issued by the International Standards Organisation defines records management as the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance , use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.

Government of South Australia (2005) notes that there are a multitude of benefits that can be expected from agencies and authorities achieving adequate records management such as:

--Ability to mitigate the considerable risks associated with inadequate records management practice, specifically, accountability, transparency, sound corporate governance, and public sector efficiency.

--Compliance with statutory requirements.

--Ability to provide enterprise-wide access to documents, records and information resources contained within multiple databases.

--Ability to manage electronic documents and records as inviolate and credible evidence. …

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