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Making records ready: responding to the Scottish child abuse inquiry.

Anderson, Caroline Elizabeth


Caroline Elizabeth Anderson



This study charts and describes, within a live and emergent environment, how a large organisation responded to the requirements of the Scottish child abuse inquiry. Using action research and a records continuum perspective, the study explores the role of records and the issues identified by previous research and care leaver communities about their importance, existence and use. Framed using the Heideggerian concept of records as tools - present-at-hand and ready-at-hand - the study explores the management of identifying record sources and record types that exist, the purpose these records provide through their content, and how they function formally as evidence. Difficulties inherent from the historic eighty-year scope and the issues with accessing a national and organisational memory are described. The legal and moral aspects of recordkeeping are highlighted as having equal importance for the state in its legislative and regulatory role, and for care providers in their statutory role as corporate parents. The emerging themes whilst centred on records and their accessibility, meaning and use, also draw on the experience of witnesses and organisational stakeholders within the context of the inquiry and organisation, their multi-disciplinary, attitudinal positions and the timescales involved in the processes. For the care leavers, state legislators and institutional corporate parenting bodies of the past, the present, and in the future, their dependency on the legal and moral dimensions of recordkeeping as a national and institutional narrative is key. The study supports the conclusion that recordkeeping is fundamental in enabling our society to fully understand and come to terms with the past, understand the present and prepare for the future.


ANDERSON, C.E. 2018. Making records ready: responding to the Scottish child abuse inquiry. Robert Gordon University [online], DInfSci thesis. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 12, 2019
Keywords Child abuse; Public inquiry; Records management; Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011; Corporate archives; Scotland
Public URL
Award Date Dec 31, 2018


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