Maximising the advantage to Australian research by investing in data storage infrastructure for important national research data collections.


The demand for data storage continues to grow exponentially.  Without insight into the scale, demand and characteristics of national data storage capacity and the data collections they manage it is near impossible to design realistic investment strategies.

The Data Retention project is a three-year research sector partnership to increase the impact of investment in underpinning infrastructure that store important data collections. Partnerships in the Data Retention project will leverage contemporary research data management practices to enrich data collections with controlled and consistent structural metadata to drive the FAIR data principles, particularly the findability, accessibility and reusability of data collections.

To deliver a competitive advantage to Australian researchers and maximise the impact of valuable research data collections, researchers must have timely access to high quality data collections and stable, persistent infrastructure. The ARDC is partnering with Australian organisations supporting underpinning capacity to maximise the impact of important data output of Australian research.


The project is divided into 3 phases.

Phase 1: Legacy Data Collections

Co-investment partnerships were established with organisations managing existing research data collections stored on legacy RDSI investments.  Partners are required to enrich these collections to a more FAIR state using 13 controlled metadata elements during the course of the project.

The co-investment partners in phase 1 are:

Read our guide for researchers on why metadata are important for research data collections.

This phase runs from March 2021 to June 2023.

Phase 2: Significant National Data Collections

We invited co-investment partnerships from Australian universities and NCRIS capabilities who manage important and valuable research data collections. Partners are required to enrich these collections to a more FAIR state using 13 controlled metadata elements during the course of the project.

The co-investment partners in phase 2 are:

  • Astronomy Australia Ltd
  • AuScope
  • Australian Plant Phenomics Facility
  • BioPlatforms Australia
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Queensland


This phase runs from September 2021 to June 2023.

Read the article launching phase 2, Securing data collections of national significance.

Phase 3: Impact Assessment

All project stakeholders will assess project effectiveness and build an impact and sustainability model to inform strategic vision and future investment targets to support significant national data collections.

This phase concerns assessing the impact of the project investment.  It will be composed of two themes:

1. Progress assessment metrics

This will be an internal exercise to establish the capability of partners in reaching the metadata criteria during the investment period.  This activity will be used to influence ARDC and wider NCRIS programme roadmapping and future investment plans.

2. DataRetention@ARDC

This is a project forum for organisations participating in the Data Retention Project and will be used to help build a definition of ‘Data Collections of National Significance’, communicate and resolve issues arising from project activity, champion project goals in their wider communities, and contribute to building a realistic sustainability model to secure important and valuable data collections for the benefit of the Australian research sector.

This phase runs from March 2021 to June 2023.

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Relationship with other ARDC programs and investments

The Data Retention Project supports other ARDC investments by designing a sustainable data storage infrastructure investment and common metadata specification. This project establishes a coherent and consistent view of important data collections across the national research sector and quantifies the operational requirements to store and present those collections in line with the FAIR Data Principles, established academic conventions and NCRIS Principles. The minimal but purposeful metadata requirements do not significantly impact the context, utility or cultural oversight of important data collections.

We work with the ARDC’s Institutional Underpinnings program to complement the good practice and institutional solutions to data management, building a bridge between Research Data Management and Operational Infrastructure Management.

Together with the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud, the Data Retention Project underpins a robust and responsive national data commons.

Contact us

Get in touch with our team with any questions about the ARDC Data Retention project. Contact us