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Managing your data after your project has completed

It is important to continue managing your research data after your project has completed so that it retains its integrity and will be a good source of evidence to support your research outputs.

You will need to make sure that your data is kept secure and appropriately protected. For further guidance on how to look after your data on completion of your project check out Cardiff University's Guidance for Managing Research Records and Data.

How long do you need to keep it?

Make sure that you follow any stipulations made by your project funding body (set out in the funding contract or terms and conditions). Most funding bodies specify whether they or the institution is responsible for the resulting dataset long term and in some cases require the dataset to be sent to them on project completion. An overview of each Funding Council's requirements is available on the Digital Curation Centre's website.

In the absence of any stipulation from the funding body, data for non-clinical and non-public health research projects should be kept for a period of no less than 5 years or at least 2 years post-publication (as appropriate) to allow for further analysis and review, and aid any future queries or disputes regarding intellectual property, research conduct or the actual results of the research. If any patents emerge from the research, the records and data may need to be retained for a longer period to support the patent or other protected intellectual property.

Research data obtained from clinical research projects or projects relating to public health should be kept for a minimum of 15 years from the end of the project. If any patents emerge from the research, the records and data may need to be retained for a longer period to support the patent or other protected intellectual property.

Financial and administrative research records should be kept in line with the research section of the University's Records Retention Schedule. Some financial and administrative records from projects funded by European Structural Funds will need to be retained until the payment of the final balance of structural funds by the European Commission + 3 years. Confirmation should be sought from WEFO prior to destruction. For further information on WEFO's records requirements see their guidance note on the Retention and Management of Documents.  

In instances of doubt as to how long data must be retained contact the University Records Manager within the Governance and Compliance Division.

Managing Digital Records

To make sure that your research data is available for the full retention period you may need to set up a migration strategy to migrate your digital data to newer file formats before they become inaccessible. The strategy should ensure the integrity of the intellectual content of the records is maintained and if required that a copy of the original bit stream is also retained.

You should also consider the lifespan of the media that you are using to store your data, setting up procedures to regularly check that the data is still accessible and to regularly transfer it to newer media if necessary. These procedures should include steps for ensuring that the data transferred remains complete and accurate. The data should also be appropriately backed-up to prevent accidental loss. It is recommended that storage media is stored at the appropriate environmental conditions for that media to increase its longevity and to prevent accidental damage.


For further guidance on managing your data after your project has completed see Cardiff University's Guidance for Managing Research Records and Data.

Research data and records from clinical trials should be managed after completion of the trial in line with the University's Standard Operating Procedure on Archiving records from Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products.