Retention and Disposal of Research Data – Confirming Obligations, Establishing Practice

An Institutional Underpinnings Research Data Management Network project to guide research institutions to best practice for retaining and disposing of research data
A person using a computer and taking notes at a library, books on the table
Who will benefit
Universities and other research institutions

The Challenge

Universities are currently grappling with significant data growth and the risks of managing research data of varying sensitivity at scale. Institutions find themselves managing a corpus of digital content generated by research projects, only some of which is research data and has reuse value. Researchers and institutions are therefore questioning which research data need to be retained and which can be disposed throughout the project lifecycle.

The Response

As part of the the Institutional Underpinnings Research Data Management Network (IU RDM Network), this project aimed to:

  • develop agreed core principles and good practice examples for the retention and disposal of research data
  • identify operational opportunities for collecting information and taking actions that support the retention and disposal of research data.

The Outcomes

This project created a:

  • rubric with the current best practice of institutional retention obligations based on legislation
  • set of recommendations for institutions to align to a common best practice baseline.

Both of these outputs can be found in the final project report.

Who Will Benefit

The outcomes of this project will help universities to better manage the costs and risks associated with holding data, and focus resources on the data that needs to be retained.

The Partners

  • UNSW Sydney
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Technology Sydney

Further Resources

This project was one of the 4 projects of the IU RDM Network. Read about the other 3 projects:

The IU RDM Network was an extension of the ARDC-led Institutional Underpinning program, which has developed the first RDM framework for Australian universities. Learn more about the program and access the:

Contact the ARDC

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March to November 2023

Current Phase


ARDC Co-investment


Project lead

UNSW Sydney

Research Topic