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About the project

Appraisal and disposal are both essential strategies for addressing rising volumes of records being created and managed electronically within Victorian Government.

To better position ourselves in the digital present and future, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) undertook the Digital Appraisal and Disposal Research Project during 2017-18 to investigate current and emerging trends and practice in appraisal and disposal of records held and managed within digital environments. 

Graphic defining terms appraisal, disposal and digital


Research methodology

The research was conducted in three stages:

  1. sourcing information related to digital appraisal and disposal practice
  2. evaluating the information
  3. analysing the information to present findings and set of recommendations.

The following is an outline of the types of information sourced, evaluated and analysed as part of the project.

image of book, computer and phone to illustrate research sources



Key findings

Overall the research has exposed some potential areas of exploration and highlighted gaps in PROV knowledge and coverage of advice to agencies.

Key findings include:

  • There has been limited coverage of successful practical application of digital appraisal and disposal in literature. Most papers focus on challenges and propose what could be done to manage digital records, such as early implementation of appraisal decisions and the need to apply RDAs in digital systems. Application of machine learning, natural language processing and disk analysis tools is beginning to occur but it is early days.
  • Other jurisdictions have started contributing to their government’s digital strategies and have developed some practical guidance, tools and advice around digital appraisal and disposal practice.
  • The National Archives UK has begun testing machine-assisted technologies. In Australia, we are just beginning work in this area. For example, see State Archives NSW's Machine Learning Pilot Project.



As a result of the research and findings, it has been recommended that PROV undertake a number of actions including:

  • Develop new web topic pages and tools such as checklists that provide practical advice to Victorian Government on appraisal, digital records sentencing and classifying and mapping retention and disposal authorities to business systems.
  • Continue to test existing tools and applications for the appraisal of unstructured digital information and trial these with agencies.
  • Continue cooperation and information sharing activities with other jurisdictions to keep abreast of developments regarding digital appraisal and disposal techniques.


Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples