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Retention and disposal arrangements for research data

Why do I need to identify how long my research data needs to be retained?

To optimise research outcomes, data must be stored, retained, documented and/or described, made accessible for use and reuse, and/or disposed of, according to legal, statutory, ethical and funding bodies' requirements. (Research Data Mangement Policy)

Sentencing is the process of matching your research data to a specific class of records in a records authority (e.g. Monash University Retention and Disposal Authority, see table below for specific sentences related to research data). This helps determine the research data's value and how it should be managed throughout its lifecycle.

It is strongly recommended that researchers sentence their research data at the START of the research process.This information is often recorded during the application process for Human Ethics approvals and research grants, etc.

Researchers must ensure that requirements for retention and disposal (including secure destruction) are met.

Table 1 outlines the minimum retention periods for research data. In some instances, the data may be required to be retained longer, for example, due to requirements outlined by a research grant.

Issues for consideration along the research journey

Table 1: What is the minimum retention period for my research data?

Reference Description Status Disposal Action Storage
PROS 16/07 - 3.3.2 Data and datasets created as part of research activities within the institution, which are of regulatory or community significance. PERMANENT Permanent Archive RETAIN IN CENTRAL UNIVERSITY STORAGE (means the storage solution must be owned and centrally managed by the University and the research data must be identifiable through appropriate metadata that can be understood with or without the ongoing input of the original researcher)

For HARD COPY DATA ONLY - University Archives
Contact: archives@monash.edu

For ELECTRONIC DATA - University Library
See Advice and planning
Contact: researchdata@monash.edu

PROS 16/07 - 3.3.3 Data and datasets created from clinical trials as part of research activities within the institution.
Excludes data and datasets included in class 3.3.2
TEMPORARY Destroy 15 years after completion of research activity RETAIN IN CENTRAL UNIVERSITY STORAGE (means the storage solution must be owned and centrally managed by the University and the research data must be identifiable through appropriate metadata that can be understood with or without the ongoing input of the original researcher)

See Advice and planning
Contact: researchdata@monash.edu

PROS 16/07 - 3.3.4 Data and datasets created as part of research activities within the institution which involve minors.
Excludes data and datasets included in class 3.3.2
TEMPORARY Destroy 15 years after child reaches the age of 18 RETAIN IN CENTRAL UNIVERSITY STORAGE (means the storage solution must be owned and centrally managed by the University and the research data must be identifiable through appropriate metadata that can be understood with or without the ongoing input of the original researcher)

See Advice and planning
Contact: researchdata@monash.edu

PROS 16/07 - 3.3.5 Data and datasets created as part of research activities within the institution. Does NOT include data created for specific research activities for which additional regulatory requirements apply, including: clinical trials, gene therapy and research involving children. Excludes data and datasets included in class 3.3.2 TEMPORARY Destroy 5 years after completion of research activity RETAIN IN THE MOST APPROPRIATE UNIVERSITY STORAGE (and must be identifiable through appropriate metadata that can be understood with or without the ongoing input of the original researcher)

See Advice and planning
Contact: researchdata@monash.edu

Source for the first four columns of data - Public Records Office Victoria (PROS-Public Records Office Specification): Retention and Disposal Authority for Records of the Higher and Further Education Functions
Details also cited in the Monash University Retention and Disposal Authority

Additional information

What is the criteria for research data being considered to be of regulatory or community significance (i.e. to be kept permanently)?

Includes data created that is:

  • part of genetic research, including gene therapy
  • controversial or of high public interest
  • costly or impossible to reproduce
  • relates to the use of an innovative technique for the first time
  • of significant community or heritage value to the state or nation
  • required by funding or other agreements to be retained permanently
What about research data with an assigned DOI?

The University Library has the ability to assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) to research data. A DOI is a persistent link to published research outputs (datasets, code and publications) which includes information about them. Monash University Library will ensure that the link is kept up-to-date and the collection continues to be discoverable.

What about instrument-based research data?

Instrument-based research data that is being stored for future experiments due to it being valuable or hard to replicate, should be routinely reviewed every 5 years to ensure it is still viable for use. Relevant metadata indicating how long this instrument-based research data needs to be retained should also be updated as part of this review process.

Need help?

If you are unsure about which sentence to apply, contact researchdata@monash.edu