5.5 Retaining records and research data

Appropriate mechanisms of storage and periods of retention for research data
  1. Long-term storage and access to research data should be managed through an appropriate funder-provided, discipline-specific or institutional facility. You should, wherever possible, store primary and secondary research data in a secure and accessible form. Research data resulting from a study should be available to other researchers, so that they may replicate the study or elaborate on its findings.
  2. This recommendation may also be found the European Science Foundation/ALLEA Adobe Acrobat (PDF) European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (PDF, 1.76MB)

  3. Confidential information (including personal data) must be destroyed and disposed of securely once it is no longer required, after agreed periods of retention have expired, or in cases where destruction is required for legal or ethical reasons, in accordance with the University’s Information Handling Policy. Sensitive paper documents should be shredded, and electronic data should be securely erased. You should seek assistance from your departmental Computer Officer or IT Services for advice on the secure disposal of electronic data. In addition, you must ensure that you comply with any additional legal or ethical requirements, or requirements from research funders or collaborating organisations, regarding the secure disposal of confidential data.
  4. For data and documents related to clinical trials, researchers must be aware of the University’s responsibilities as a sponsor of clinical trials, and ensure that they retain the essential documents required by the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Amendment Regulations 2006 or any subsequent regulations. Standard Operating Procedures for studies which are sponsored by the University must be followed. Further information, including details of the essential documents, can be found in the Standard Operating Procedures of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology’s Research Sponsorship and Management Group.
  5. Data must be retained intact for a period of at least six years, or any longer period required by an approving body, the research funder or under legislation. Minimum periods commence on the date at which the final report was sent to the research funder, or the date on which the output was published, or, for student research, the date of submission of the thesis or dissertation. The term ‘data’ here includes all unpublished evidence, whether numerical or otherwise, on which the publication is based and from which results can be replicated or reproduced. Hard copy, such as laboratory notes, field notes, questionnaire responses, signed consent forms, the research protocol for the project, photographic records, and subsequent electronic files should all be retained.
  6. In studies involving invasive procedures (including ingested substances and venepuncture), or in psychiatric studies, the standard period for retention of volunteer information and informed consent is a minimum of 10 years. For studies involving invasive procedures or psychiatric studies involving participants who are under the age of 18, volunteer information and informed consent must be stored for a minimum of 10 years after each participant’s 18th birthday.
  7. Researchers should be aware that the retention periods may vary, in line with regulatory requirements, and should ensure that they are aware of any changes to data retention regulations and abide by them.
  8. Research Ethics Committees, funders or approving bodies may, for an individual project, extend the length of retention period or redefine the minimum data that should be retained if they consider it appropriate. Researchers must ensure that they abide by the retention requirements of any relevant bodies and any project specific variations.
  9. More information on data retention, sharing and storage is available from the Data Management website.

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Research Support Services Contact details

Tel - (0116) 252 2437 or (0116) 229 7763

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