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Managing Your Research Data: Select & preserve

Preserving or archiving research data ensures it lives beyond the life of one specific research project. There are likely to be costs involved, so you will have to weigh these against the benefits. Also consider:

  • Institution or funder retention policies
  • Discipline-based preservation standards and techniques
  • Length of time desired - 5, 10, 25 years or beyond
  • Repositories or data centres in which data could be deposited
  • Rights to re-use or share the data
  • Whether the data exists in a proprietary format
  • Policies and methods for the eventual disposal of data
  • Moving your data to new technologies before storage media become obsolete
  • Converting data to standard formats for preservation

SELECTING DATA FOR PRESERVATION

The goal is to maintain data that have long-term value to the research community. Questions to ask when appraising data to be archived include:

  • Which data or versions of data would be most difficult to reproduce?
  • What data must be kept due to contractual obligations?
  • What data must be destroyed due to contractual or policy obligations?
  • Is there potential for re-use of the data, and by whom?
  • What preparation of data is required by the repository you have selected?

The Digital Curation Centre have a checklist for appraising research data that might be a useful place to start: Five steps to decide what data to keep.

SELECTING A DATA REPOSITORY

As with sharing and storing data, data repositories are a great place to put your research data for preservation purposes.  

Repositories range from personal, departmental, and institution-based locations to global data service centres. Factors to consider when choosing a repository include:

  • Cost of storing and retrieving data
  • How easily data can be retrieved
  • Security against unauthorised access to data and changes to or deletion of data
  • Protection against loss
  • Level of access to your data by other researchers

Have a look at the Digital Curation Centre's Where to keep research data checklist and also go to the list of repositories on the Access & Share page in this guide.