The term document has multiple meanings in ordinary language and in scholarship. WordNet 3.1. lists four meanings (October 2011):
- document, written document, papers (writing that provides information (especially information of an official nature))
- document (anything serving as a representation of a person's thinking by means of symbolic marks)
- document (a written account of ownership or obligation)
- text file, document ((computer science) a computer file that contains text (and possibly formatting instructions) using seven-bit ASCII characters).
In Library and information science and in documentation science, a "document" is considered a basic theoretical construct. It is everything which may be preserved or represented in order to serve as evidence for some purpose. The classical example provided by Suzanne Briet is an antelope: "An antelope running wild on the plains of Africa should not be considered a document, she rules. But if it were to be captured, taken to a zoo and made an object of study, it has been made into a document. It has become physical evidence being used by those who study it. Indeed, scholarly articles written about the antelope are secondary documents, since the antelope itself is the primary document." (Quoted from Buckland, 1998 ). (This view has been seen as an early expression of what now is known as actor–network theory).
That documents cannot be defined by their transmission medium (such as paper) is evident because of the existence of electronic documents.
Famous quotes containing the word document:
“What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it, dull to the contempory who reads it, invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it!”
—Ellen Terry (18481928)
“... research is never completed ... Around the corner lurks another possibility of interview, another book to read, a courthouse to explore, a document to verify.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen (18971973)