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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly - Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

4.4 Retaining research data

Research data must be retained according to the periods specified in the Code and archives and records legislation, and you should note the retention period required for your research data during the planning phase of your project. In general, the minimum retention period for research data is 5 years post-publication; however, the actual period may vary depending upon the local jurisdiction, the discipline and type of research, other institutional policies, and the requirements of bodies such as funding agencies and commercial sponsors. For example:

  • For most clinical trials, retaining the research data for 15 years or more may be necessary;
  • For areas such as gene therapy, research data must be retained permanently (e.g. patient records);
  • If the work has community or heritage value, research data should be kept permanently, preferably within a national collection;
  • If results from research are challenged, all relevant data and materials must be retained until the matter is resolved; 
  • Research records that may be relevant to allegations of research misconduct must be kept according to the terms of the resolution of the matter.

How long do you usually retain data for after a project has ended? Do you know if this period is consistent with legislative and funding-body requirements for data retention?

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