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Storing research data

Research data retention

This guidance is to be read in conjunction with the Template Research Data Protection Protocol, the Data Protection Code of Practice and the Research Data Management Policy.

Statutory, funder and publisher requirements need to be complied with, minimum and/ or maximum lengths of time may be stipulated. Research data may be kept as long as it is needed, the sensitivity and value of the data should be taken into account. In the participant information sheets participants should be told how long the data will be kept and whether it will be disposed of securely.

In most cases it would be reasonable to store research data for 10 years after publication for research projects unless it is a student project where 3 years after publication may be sufficient. For clinical research data may need to be retained for much longer in order to comply with funder and legislative requirements. 

At this point a review should be undertaken to establish whether it is still necessary to keep the data or whether it can be securely disposed of. Faculty and Service IT Managers should be able to offer advice on how to dispose of research data securely. The Research Data Management plan for the research project may need to be reviewed more frequently, eg annually.

The long-term storage of signed consent forms

Researchers must put in place appropriate long-term storage arrangements for signed consent forms as these contain personal data relating to the research participants. Advice may be sought from Research Data Leeds or from Faculty IT Managers.

Further advice