What data do I need to keep and for how long?
What data has to be stored?
- What is the ‘data’ for your research project?
- What data types will you be generating or collecting (e.g. surveys, images, computer code)?
- How will the research data be generated and what procedures will be used to collect, check and verify data?
- Will you re-use existing research data?
- What file formats will be used for your research data?
- There will be raw data, analysed data and outcomes.
How long do I have to store my data?
The length of time you store data depends on the nature of the research project and the resultant data. Where it is workable, you should store all data (for at least the term of the project). Most researchers will store data for at least five years after final publication.
You need to keep data for a further five years if you re-analyse data and publish again.
The table below outlines the standard time-frames for storing research data.
Type of research or research data
Minimum storage period
Student work that is not higher degree by research and not intended for publication
Materials must be kept for at least one year after the degree is conferred
Published research not involving clinical interventions
Data must be stored for at least five years from the date of final publication
Research involving clinical trials
Data must be stored for at least 15 years from the date of final publication
Clinical research with potential long-term effects patients
Data relating to that patient and their exposure must be retained permanently in their patient records
Areas such as gene therapy
Data must be retained permanently (e.g. patient records)
Human research data
Researchers must abide by the agreements entered into with research participants in relation to data storage and identifiability, unless a variation is approved by the relevant Human Research Ethics Committee
The materials have long-term value (e.g. of historical significance)
Appropriate storage and management should be arranged and a description of the materials, including location and access conditions provided to Deakin Research Online.
Do I ever need to destroy my data?
You may wish to store research data for longer than the required time-frame. You could keep the data if it does not breach an agreement. This depends on some issues, including:
- Data collected in human research projects must follow the original plan. If you told participants you would destroy their data, you need to do so.
- Otherwise you would need to seek their consent again. This also requires seeking a modification to your original ethics approval.
- The practicalities of storage space.
- Consider storage capacity needs for your digital and non-digital data
- You should also consider the long-term storage capacity for digital or non-digital data.
- Consider safety issues with long-term storage of chemical or biological data.
- Commercial agreements with industry or other sponsors of the research.
How should I destroy my data when the time comes?
The destruction of research data cannot be undertaken without first receiving authorisation from the University’s Information Manager.
Include a link to relevant Deakin policy about destruction of research data
Types of data
Recommended destruction processes
Contact the Information and Records Services Unit
Non-digital, paper based data
Deakin provides a secure shredding service. You should shred all confidential, non-digital, paper-based research data (e.g. questionnaire responses).
Non-digital, non-paper based data
Follow discipline-specific data destruction methods if you have non-digital or non-paper based data. For example, installations, sculptures, paintings, Polaroid photographs, non-digital film.
Follow the standard operating procedures for the individual laboratory to destroy chemical data. For more information and advice:
Follow the standard operating procedures for the individual laboratory to destroy biological data. For example, biohazards, chemically treated tissue samples. For more information and advice:
Follow the standard operating procedures for the individual laboratory to destroy radioactive data. For more information and advice: