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Preparing to share

Selecting data to keep

At the end of a research project there are three options for your data:

When deciding what data to share, retain and destroy, it is important to consider the potential re-use value of your data, as well as any legal or policy reasons for this data to be kept or destroyed. If you are sharing your data consider what documentation and metadata will be necessary for others to re-use your data, and ensure it is in an appropriate non-proprietary format where possible. Further guidance is also available on selecting data to keep from the Digital Curation Centre.

Retention periods

You should keep research data for as long as they remain valuable, to you or others, or if in doubt follow the relevant funder guidelines. Expected periods for preservation vary from 3 to 10 years plus depending on the funder. The EPSRC expects data to be securely preserved for a minimum of 10 years from the date on which the data was last accessed. There are more details on funders’ requirements in the funders’ policies.

For guidance on the documentation around your research project please consult the University’s Records Retention Schedule.

Secure disposal

If you decide that you no longer need some or all of your research data it is important to dispose of it securely. Just deleting files is usually not enough to remove them from hard drives or servers and it is recommended to use specialist software for this purpose if your data is sensitive. Paper records should be shredded if they are no longer required.