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n. (reliable, adj.) ~ 1. The quality of being dependable and worthy of trust. - 2. The quality of being consistent and undeviating. - 3. Diplomatics · Created by a competent authority, according to established processes, and being complete in all formal elements.

- rely, v. ~ 4. To have confidence in; to believe in.


Reliability is a relative concept associated with authenticity, accuracy, sufficiency, completeness, integrity, consistency, and dependability. In general, reliability is synonymous with trustworthiness. It takes on narrower senses in different contexts.

A system is reliable2 if it produces consistent results. A calculator that always reports that 2 × 2 = 4 is reliable; one that occasionally reports 2 × 2 = 5 is not.

In diplomatics, a record is reliable3 only if it was created by someone with appropriate authority, if it was made following proper procedures, and if all information and steps were finished. In this sense, reliability does not ensure the accuracy of the content of a record.

(AJS, Records §99) He who acts in reliance on the record has behind him not only the natural equities of his position, but also the special equity arising from the protection afforded everyone who trusts the record.
(Duff 1998, p . 88) The mere existence of a record does not ensure that it will faithfully represent a transaction or an event; its credibility must be ensured through the establishment of reliable methods and procedures for its creation, maintenance, and use over time. A society or culture endorses certain recordkeeping procedures and endows them with the ability to create trustworthy records.
(Gilliland-Swetland and Eppard 2000) The degree to which a record can be considered reliable is dependent upon the level of procedural and technical control exercised during its creation and management in its active life. Authenticity, by contrast, is the responsibility of archival management of inactive records, and is an absolute concept.
(MacNeil 2000, p. 39) A reliable record is one that is capable of standing for the facts to which it attests. Reliability thus refers to the truth-value of the record as a statement of facts and it is assessed in relation to the proximity of the observer and recorder to the facts recorded.

A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology