School of Business and Economics


James Lappin

Photo of  James Lappin

Doctoral Researcher in Information Management

James’ doctoral research project investigates the archival policy options in relation to email.   

James commenced his PhD studies at Loughborough University in April 2015. The research is sponsored The National Archives (TNA),

This research uses a realist evaluation method to establish the circumstances in which each of the different policy options towards email are most likely to be most effective.

James has an MA in Archives and Records Management, obtained from UCL in 1995.  He has spent over twenty years working in the field of archives and records management.  He has provided consultancy advice for organisations as diverse as the UK Parliament, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the National Air Traffic Authority.  He served for two years as records manager on the project to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.  Alongside his research he is currently working for the European Institutions.  He writes the Thinking Records blog and was for ten years chair of the Information and Records Management Society’s London Group.  

Research Interest:

James’ research is interested in both the pragmatic policy issues and dilemmas thrown up by email for archives and records management, and the deeper theoretical issues that these dilemmas reflect. The issues covered by the research include:

  • Is it better for organisations to seek to move important emails out of email accounts?  Or should they instead seek to manage such emails in situ within email accounts?
  • Under what circumstances is it legitimate for organisations (including government bodies) to delete the email accounts of staff playing important roles in the organisation? 
  • Is the policy adopted by the US National Archives and Records Administration in 2014 that seeks to preserve the email accounts of important federal officials permanently likely to prove successful in the US?  Would it prove beneficial elsewhere?
  • Can recordkeeping theory be used to rank the different policy options?  If not what improvements or additions would need to be made to the body of professional theory?


Research Plan:

  • First year: Review of the literature and hypothesis development
  • Second year: Assessment of the fitness of the realist evaluation methodology for the project
  • Third year: Identification of the policy options in relation to email, and the different beliefs underpinning them
  • Fourth year Testing of the different policy options against archival theory, with a view to both ranking the policy options in order of preference, and to identifying any gaps or uncertainties in records management theory.
  • Fifth Year: Validation of results against a case study.  Write up.



  • Professor Graham Mathews
  • Professor Tom Jackson


Thesis Title/Topic:

Evaluation of the recordkeeping policy options in relation to email



  • Lappin, J (2010) "What will be the next records management orthodoxy?", Records Management Journal, Vol. 20 Issue: 3, pp.252-264