Following are guidelines for determining minimum and maximum retention periods for your research data.
General options for minimum retention
|Type of research||Time period|
|Research||5-years post-publication date|
|Research with Health information||7 years post-publication|
|Drug/Device clinical trials participants 18+ years||
15 years post-publication date
|Drug/Device clinical trials from participants under 18 years of age||When the last participant turns 25 or 15 years post-publication date, whichever is longest.|
Maximum Retention Period
To work out the maximum retention period, you need to consider the longer-term value of the data in light of the potential research impact and other factors, such as:
- the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat - Policy, section (42)
- repeating the research would be burdensome or distressing for human participants or animals
- the results are of high public interest or contention - Policy, section (39)
- methods or results constitute a paradigm shift for the field of inquiry, or the research will result in notifiable intellectual property (e.g. a patent application).
La Trobe’s Research Data Management Policy states that research data and primary materials generated from research will be:
- made available to others subject to any contractual or other legal restrictions, and appropriate ethical, defense related, data sharing and open access principles (8f).
In addition, the Policy indicates that (sufficient) research data and primary materials must be retained:
- (Following publication of a paper in which research data is cited) For sufficient time to allow reference to the data by other researchers and for so long as interest and discussion persist following publication (37)
- if it is deemed to be of on-going value to the research community (39)
- if it is required for the potential defense of the veracity of the data or its analysis (39)
- to justify the outcomes of research and, if necessary, to defend them against challenge (42).
Research data satisfying section (39) of the Policy must be deposited into Library repository or other approved facility (39a). This will ensure your data is archived and curated. For guidelines on and more detailed information about publishing your research data, refer to Publication of Research Data.
Contractual, legal and ethical requirements
A qualification to the Policy referenced above is that, at the point of publication:
- research data and primary materials must be evaluated in accordance with any contractual or other legal or ethical requirements with regard to that data to determine what must be retained and what can be disposed of (41, emphasis added)
Be aware that ethical (and other) requirements can be met and valuable research data retained if ethics applications and consent forms are appropriately worded.
Retention of Unpublished Data
You may collect or generate research data that is valuable but is unsuitable for or unable to be published (for example, for ethical reasons). In such cases, ensure that your data is properly stored on a designated Research Drive.