Skip to main content

Research data management: Retention

Research data management covers the planning, collecting, organising, managing, storage, security, backing up, preserving, and sharing your data.

Data Retention

Consideration needs to be given to retaining data at the end of the project.   Retention periods for research data may be influenced by a number of factors, such as:

  • funding body requirements (generally a minimum of 5 years)
  • legislative or regulatory requirements, for example, statutory retention periods, set by governments, for records
  • university policies on data management
  • agreements or contracts with research and industry partners
  • likely interest in the data from other researchers
  • the needs of the research project team.

Some research data have lasting research value for researchers and the general public. In such cases, the decision may be made to keep data for a longer period or even permanently. Longer-term and permanent retention of research outputs such as publications are recommended where the outcomes of the research:

  • are or may become of great public interest or contention
  • substantially shift the paradigm in the research field
  • have resulted in the identification, registration and use of intellectual property such as patent applications.

Retention periods

Different retention periods apply to research involving clinical trials, psychological testing or intervention with adults, medical research involving children and so on. Check the regulations/codes.