UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the principle of provenance with social network analysis Chandler, Kathryn Suzanne


Traditionally, an archival fonds is conceptualized as an aggregate of records which are mutually relevant. This mutual relevance is often attributed to the origin of member records in a common context – with this context typically understood as the context of an organization, and more specifically, a department. It is considered difficult to identify mutually relevant records in modern organizations. This difficulty is often attributed to frequent administrative changes which disrupt departmental contexts. This thesis tests a technique that aims to use the information within the records to identify a context common to a set of records. It involves extracting the name of the creator and the name of the modifier from each record, then subjecting this information to a community detection algorithm. It was hypothesized that groups of individuals who frequently modify one another’s records constitute a common context. After applying various community detection algorithms to the records of an organization, the resulting groups of records were presented to the staff of the organization for feedback. Staff clearly indicated that groups of records produced by the community detection algorithms were not mutually relevant. These results can be explained with reference to the works of Jenny Bunn, who argued that an autonomous community only comes into existence when constituent members engage in both “being” and “doing.” During the interviews with staff, it was clear that some algorithms produced groups of people characterized by established relationships (“being”) while others produced groups in pursuit of a joint activity (“doing”). The absence of overlap suggests there were no autonomous subcommunities in this study, and therefore, no common context by which records can be bound. Mutually relevant records can also be formed by employees in their attempts to keep records orderly. To explore this further, it was argued that constructing a folder structure is akin to constructing a narrative, with the narrative components taking the form of records. When numerous employees attempt to organize the same records using different narratives, the aggregate may seem disorderly. This thesis suggests that disentangling these narratives is a method by which order may be restored.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International