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8. Details of Individual Metadata Elements

8.26 Event Type




Identifying Attributes




Event Type

Defined by

Government of Canada Records Management Metadata Standard - eventType

Element URI

[To be actioned by Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat before publication]

Definitional Attributes


An action taken on a record or file during its life cycle.


To log individual actions that have been taken on a record or file for audit and evidentiary requirements.


"Techniques to ensure capture of records may include…d) systems which profile or template the actions undertaken in doing business, which…

4) identify who has accessed a record,
5) identify when such access took place, and
6) provide evidence of the transactions that have been undertaken on the record." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.3

"Tracking of the movement and use of records within a records system is required to:
a) identify outstanding action required,
b) enable retrieval of a record,
c) prevent loss of records,
d) monitor usage for systems maintenance and security, and maintain an auditable trail of records transitions (i.e. capture or registration, classification, indexing, storage, access and use, migration and disposition), and
e) maintain capacity to identify the operational origins of individual records where systems have been amalgamated or migrated." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.8.1

"Records systems should contain complete and accurate representations of all transactions that occur in relation to a particular record…they may be recorded as audit trails which should be kept at least as long as the document to which they relate is retained." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 8.3.2

"An authentic record is one that can be proven … c) to have been created or sent at the time purported." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 7.2.2

"[Systems] should provide and maintain audit trails or other methods to demonstrate that records were effectively protected from unauthorized use, alteration or destruction." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 8.3.6

"Systems should provide audit trails or other methods to track completed disposition actions." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 8.3.7

"The movement of records should be documented to ensure that items can always be located when required... The system should track the issue, transfer between persons, and return of records to their 'home' location or storage, as well as their disposition or transfer to any other authorized external organization including an archives authority" ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.8.3

"Any authorized annotation, addition or deletion to a record should be explicitly indicated and traceable." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 7.2.4

"A record of disposition actions, once they have been carried out, should be maintained." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.10

"All records management processes performed upon a record, or on a group or aggregation of records, should be documented. In order to preserve records and guarantee their authenticity, reliability, usability and integrity over time, it is necessary to create metadata that facilitates the triggering or documentation of these records management processes.  These metadata should include information about the management processes that have been or will be applied to each record….Metadata about records management processes can be applied throughout the record's existence…. Additionally, any changes in the record content, context and structure caused by management activities should be documented.

Business processes that access records should also be documented in the metadata throughout the record's life. Such business processes include associating records with actions, action triggers and other records.

All metadata about the record and those accruing in its management and use also form a record: the metadata record that also has to be managed. It is essential to keep this metadata record at least for as long as the record exists.  In the case of disposition of records, either by transfer of custody or ownership, or by destruction, some metadata about them may still be needed to account for their existence, management and disposition." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 5.3.2

Value Domain

Enumerated strings of text representing event types.

Datatype Name



Applicable at record level and file level.


Mandatory at record level; mandatory at file level.

Relational Attributes

Encoding Scheme

Institution-specific scheme




Agent Individual Identifier; Agent Individual Name; Event Date/Time; Event Description

Conditions of Application - Record


Text, based on encoding scheme.


Pre Record Declared Locked

Post Record Declared Locked




Not repeatable

Conditions of Application - File


Text, based on encoding scheme.




Not repeatable

Comments and Guidance

a) Explanation of Definition/Usage

Event Type is one of the most important elements in terms of documenting, for evidentiary requirements, actions taken on a record, file or metadata record itself. It is one of the elements that constitute a management and event history log. In that regard, it is used for multiple purposes:

  • Primarily, to track actions that have been taken on a record or file (e.g. "viewed", "printed", "edited", etc.).

  • At a high level, to track that the metadata record (i.e. record profile) was changed (e.g. "profile changed").

  • At a more granular level, to track changes to specific metadata elements (e.g. "retention period changed").

These actions occur over the life cycle of the record or file.

Please note that actions taken on a record or file may coincide with business events or functions, but the purpose here is not to track business events such as "date approved" but instead to track specific actions regarding a record or file (e.g. actions such as edited, transferred, destroyed, etc.)

Event Type may also enable searching for records or files affected by certain events.

This element will be repeated in the log file for each action that is taken, but since only one action can take place at one single point in time, it is deemed as "Not repeatable".

b) Best Practices

Recommended best practice is to select a value from a controlled vocabulary. There are many possible values for this element. Currently there is no GC-wide list of possible terms; hence, institutions can create their own institution-specific schemes. In order to guide the creation of such schemes, the following lists possible values based on life cycle events.

1. Collection, Creation, Receipt and Capture Events

  • An action that reflects the initial creation or receipt of the record or file
  • Purpose:
    • To indicate a record or file has been captured in the EDRMS.
  • Examples include: Captured, Imported

2. Organization Events

  • An action that relates to organizing the record or file to make it easy to locate, retrieve and share.
  • Purpose:
    • To indicate where the record or file has been classified within a classification scheme / file plan.
    • To indicate that changes have been made to access rights.
    • To indicate that changes have been made to metadata about the record or file.
  • Examples include: File Code Assigned, File Code Changed, Linked, Access Rights Assigned, Access Rights Changed, Encryption Status Changed, Profile Created, Profile Edited.

3. Use and Dissemination Events

  • An action taken on a record or file that shows how it is being accessed and shared.
  • Purpose:
    • To indicate how the record or file was used and disseminated.
  • Examples include: Checked-In, Checked-Out, Bring Forward, Edited, New Version, Printed, Viewed, Mailed Copy, Published.

4. Maintenance, Protection and Preservation Events

  • An action taken on a record or file to ensure that it is kept current and secure, and that it is not accidentally disposed of.
  • Purpose:
    • To indicate the status of a record or file in an Essential Records Program.
    • To indicate whether containers have been opened, closed, or reopened.
    • To indicate whether records or files have been placed within or removed from boxes to assist in storage management.
    • To indicate whether a suspend action has been placed on a record or file preventing its disposition.
    • To indicate whether a suspended record or file has been released thus allowing disposition to resume.
  • Examples include: Locked, Essential Status Changed, Migrated, Container Opened, Container Closed, Placed In Box, Location Changed, Removed from Box, Retention Period Assigned, Retention Period Changed, Inventoried, Suspended, Released.

5. Disposition Events

  • An action that relates to the destruction, transfer or alienation of a record or file.
  • Purpose:
    • To indicate if the disposition authority of the file has been changed.
    • To indicate if records or files have been destroyed.
    • To indicate if records or files have been transferred to Library and Archives Canada for on-going preservation.
    • To indicate if records or files have been transferred outside control of the Government of Canada (alienation).
  • Examples include: Disposition Authority Assigned, Disposition Authority Changed, Transferred, Destroyed, Alienated
  • The tracking of Transferred, Destroyed, and Alienated is required only if the institution retains metadata after the disposition of the record or file.

The following table summaries the information presented above.



Access Rights Assigned

Initial security access rights to the record or file were created.

Access Rights Changed

Security access rights to the record or file were changed.


Record was transferred outside the care and control of the Government of Canada

Bring Forward

Record or file will be presented to an individual for processing at a date in the future.


Record was filed in the EDRMS as a new record and not as a new version of an existing record.


Record was checked-in to the EDRMS either replacing the original or as a new version of the original. File was checked-in.


Record was checked-out and original locked thus temporarily preventing others from modifying the copy in the EDRMS. Or a copy of the record was checked-out and others may modify the original record still in the EDRMS. File was checked-out.

Container Closed

Container was closed.

Container Opened

Container was opened.


Record or file was obliterated beyond any possible reconstitution.

Disposition Authority Assigned

Initial disposition authority of the file was assigned.

Disposition Authority Changed

Disposition authority of the file was changed.


The content of the record was changed.

Encryption Status Changed

Encryption status of the record was changed.

Essential Status Changed

Essential status of the record or file was changed.

File Code Assigned

Initial file code was assigned to the record.

File Code Changed

File code of the record was changed.


Records were filed into the EDRMS in bulk.


Actual physical location of records and files were compared to location specified in the EDRMS.

Link Created

Relationships between constituent parts of a record were created.

Link Deleted

Relationships between constituent parts of a record were deleted.

Location Changed

Record or file was moved to another location.


Record was made read only.

Mailed Copy

Record was emailed.


Record was transferred from one format or application to another (for preservation purposes).

New Version

A new version of the record was created.

Placed In Box

Record or file was boxed for storage.


Record was printed for personal use or distribution.

Profile Created

Profile describing the record or file was initially created.

Profile Changed

Profile of the record or file was changed.


Record was formally published, e.g. on a website.

Removed From Box

Record or file was removed from storage box.


Suspension on disposition of the record or file was removed.

Retention Period Assigned

Initial retention period of the record or file was assigned.

Retention Period Changed

Retention period of the record or file was changed (lengthened or shortened) resulting from a change in the operational or legal requirements of the institution.


Disposition of the record or file was frozen until further notice (pending the closure of an on-going audit, investigation, commission of inquiry, ATIP request, etc.)


Care and control of a record or file was transferred to Library and Archives Canada as a result of applying the proper Records Disposition Authority at the expiry of the retention period of the record or file.


Record was displayed for reading but no other action was taken.

Since this element is used for audit purposes, the value cannot be modified.

c) Obligation

This element is mandatory for evidentiary purposes to identify what action was taken on a record or file, including the metadata record itself (i.e. the record profile).

d) Default Values/Auto-populate

This element is used as a log entry only and is not part of a record or file profile; therefore, all values for this element will be auto-populated by the EDRMS.

e) Linkages

This element is linked to Agent Individual Identifier and Agent Individual Name. Through those two elements it is also linked to other information about the agent who performed the action on the record, file or metadata record. It is also linked to Event Date/Time and Event Description. Event Type along with the others mentioned constitute a management and event history log.

It should be noted that although many elements are linked to Event Type, there is no reciprocal relationship. Event Type is used to log changes to the status of many elements but does not itself impact the value of those other elements.

f) Examples

  1. "Transferred"

  2. "Destroyed"

  3. "Alienated"

  4. "Profile Changed"

  5. "Suspended"

  6. "Printed"

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