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ACU Research Data Management Toolkit

This toolkit will help you to determine your research data management needs and create a data management plan that documents how data will be managed during the research process and after the project is completed.

Data retention

Consideration needs to be given to retaining data at the end of the project.   Retention periods for research data may be influenced by a number of factors, such as:

  • funding body requirements (generally a minimum of 5 years)
  • legislative or regulatory requirements, for example, statutory retention periods, set by governments, for records
  • university policies on data management
  • agreements or contracts with research and industry partners
  • likely interest in the data from other researchers
  • the needs of the research project team.
  • Retention Periods

    The minimum period for keeping research data is usually 5 years from the completion of the project or the time that the results of the research are published (whichever is later).

    Different retention periods apply (up to 25 years) to research involving clinical trials, psychological testing or intervention with adults, medical research involving children and so on. 

    Note: If you have data in physical formats, such as paper questionnaires, clinical trial case notes or hand-written notebooks, then you are only required to store durable records derived from them. This allows you to destroy the physical form if a digital version can be securely stored for the minimum retention period. If you are unsure about how to do this, contact eResearch.

    ACU Retention and Disposal Schedule 2013 - Research Data retention and disposal conditions.



    Records created in the conduct of a Research Project where the University is entitled to control or ownership of research data.



    Research data created in the conduct of clinical trials.

    Temporary Retain for 20 years after last action of subjects have reached 25 years of age, whichever is longer.


    Research data created in the conduct of research projects that does not involve clinical trials and does not fit within the definition of "significant".

    Temporary Retain for 5 years after last action


    Research data from projects of major national or international significance, interest or controversy or where the principal investigator has widely acknowledged influence on the area of scholarship and where the data is crucial to the substantiation of the research findings and cannot be readily or practically duplicated. Includes drafts for publication in external publications and final research reports.

    Permanent Retain permanently



    Data retention resources

    These resources will help you to determine the retention period requirements that apply to your data.


    Archiving research data means storing your data in a system or service where it will be:

    • Safely stored
    • Backed up regularly
    • Discoverable
    • Preserved for the future
    • Made available to others for re-use, if possible

    Repositories are online storage archives that provide means for managing and facilitating access to digital content, ensuring long term accessibility, readability and reusability.

    The benefits of storing research data in repositories include:

    • data preservation
    • data curation and custodianship;
    • unique permanent location and assignation of unique identifiers;
    • data deposited in established repositories and archives ranks higher in search engine page rankings and is more discoverable to the wider research community;
    • rights, licensing and access management including managing access to restricted or sensitive data; and
    • data back-up.