Guidelines: Data retention

Data must be recorded in a durable and appropriately referenced form.

How long

Section 2.1 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research states that all research data should be safely retained for a period of at least five years from the date of publication.
Clinical trial material must be retained for at least 15 years after completion of the study.


Wherever possible, a copy of the original data should be retained in the department or research unit in which they were generated. During the active phase of the research it is acceptable for the data to be held temporarily off campus by members of the research team for research purposes, such as data analysis. Following completion of the active phase, all research materials must be retained at the University of Sydney or affiliated research institutes.

Data obtained from limited access databases or in a contracted project may not be able to be retained. In such cases, a written indication of the location of the original data or key information regarding the limited access database from which it was extracted must be kept in the department or research unit.

Individual researchers should be able to hold copies of the data for their own use. Nevertheless, it should be understood that retention solely by the individual research worker provides little protection to the research worker or the institution in the event of an allegation of falsification of data.

Video and audiotape

Video and audiotape records should not be erased after the data has been transcribed to digital form. Like all other research materials, these should be retained for at least the requisite seven years.


Any identification codes should be stored in a separate place from the data records to which they are linked.