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The Council and the General Board, on the recommendation of the Information Strategy and Services Syndicate, publish the following Information Strategy for the University:
1. The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. In delivering this mission, the University faces increasing demands for fast, efficient, and accurate management of information in all its forms. An Information Strategy has been developed to help all in the University to respond to those demands. Information is a concept that encompasses all kinds of information, whether held in a book in a library, as a set of raw research notes or in the form of key financial data.
2. The University of Cambridge is a knowledge-based institution par excellence. The raison d'être of the University is the maintenance, development, and advancement of all principal branches of scholarly knowledge within an environment that demands the highest attainable level of academic standards in teaching, research, and the wider dissemination and exchange of knowledge and information. An Information Strategy should support this objective and be a key component in the overall strategy for the University itself.
3. The University of Cambridge is also a complex institution in which decision-taking is both diffuse and devolved, a reflection of its self-governing and democratic status. The overall objective should be that information systems are managed in such a way as to maximize benefit to users, whilst achieving an acceptable level of ease of maintenance and cost over the long term. The strategy has the express intent of putting the users' needs and aspirations first, rather than attempting to construct a 'top down' approach.
4. The Information Strategy has been developed with users' interests as paramount. Users are individuals who work amongst their books and papers, or in an office or laboratory, and use the world wide web to explore and contribute to the body of knowledge of their discipline or activity. They communicate with colleagues and students, and find out what they need to know to manage their working lives and share information and ideas. They also need to gain access to the information necessary for them to carry out their administrative responsibilities smoothly, and ensure that records are properly maintained and archived. Associated with all this, they look for ways in which their contribution can be preserved for future reference and become a permanent part of the corpus of knowledge.
5. All information systems, from collections of manuscripts to sets of scientific data, embody similar, if not identical, functions, namely:
|(i)||the capture or acquisition of information, in whatever form;|
|(ii)||its indexing, collation, and presentation under the relevant taxonomic rules;|
|(iii)||its day-to-day management, and its maintenance, preservation, and archiving over an agreed time span, which may be relatively short-term or may be permanent, and includes the period when it is no longer needed to serve its original purpose;|
|(iv)||appropriate cross-reference to other allied information systems;|
|(v)||provision of controlled access and availability, which reflect the purpose for which that set of information has been brought together;|
|(vi)||assurance of the security and integrity of the information set, both physically and with respect to content.|
6. To fulfil these functions, a core set of requirements should guide the development of all information systems within the University, whatever their nature and purpose:
|(i)||it should be clear who owns each piece of information, who is responsible for maintaining and updating it, who has the right to alter it, and who is permitted to access it;|
|(ii)||information should be acquired once only and the definitive version should be stored and kept up to date by its owner(s) as the primary data set;|
|(iii)||standards should apply across the University for all aspects of information management where data has to be exchanged. This should include, especially, the categorization and indexing of data, the exchange of data, user interfaces to information, and document formats;|
|(iv)||authorized users should be able to add information to data drawn from central databases or repositories and, if approved, to return such 'added value' information to the central database or repository. Where important information is maintained by multiple agents, an audit trail should report who has changed the information, when, and what change was made;|
|(v)||a security policy must be in place covering: confidentiality (protecting sensitive information from unauthorized use - including appropriate audit trails of who has accessed sensitive information and when), availability (ensuring that information can always be accessed by authorized users), and integrity (knowing that it is accurate and up-to-date);|
|(vi)||a records management policy must determine, for all types of information, what should happen to all information and data (both paper and electronic) after it has ceased to be of relevance for administrative or immediate academic purposes and must ensure that archived electronic records, in particular, continue to be readable as technologies change. Data will constantly move from one context to another as their currency changes but must remain accessible over time;|
|(vii)||as web browsers are increasingly serving as a vehicle both for delivering information to users and to provide a standard interface for users to interact with information, there should be a web strategy covering the University's web presence and containing guidelines to be observed by all those who provide information via this process.|
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Cambridge University Reporter 13 May 2009
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.