1. About our research
  2. Spotlight on research
  3. Research in our departments and centres
  4. Research publications
  5. Research and Enterprise
  6. City's Research Excellence Framework 2014
  7. Research Degrees
  1. Research integrity
  2. Research data management
  3. Preserve and store data

Preserve and store data

The preservation and storage of research data is essential to the data life cycle as a whole.

Why is preservation of data important?

Data preservation is important because:

  • original storage media (digital or physical) can become obsolete over time.
  • it allows City to meet its obligations under the Data Protection Act for some types of data
  • it makes your data reusable
  • it increases citations of your data

Should I preserve all of my data?

All data supporting a publication, including both quantitative and qualitative data, should be retained and made accessible where possible. These data should be sufficient to enable other researchers to reproduce or validate your findings. This is often a sub-set of the data generated over the course of a research project.

As well as preserving the data that support publications, you should also preserve data with acknowledged long-term value. Determining the potential value of a dataset is a matter of judgement, but there are several areas that should be considered.

The Digital Curation Centre provides selection criteria that can ease the data appraisal and selection process:

  • scientific or historical value
  • uniqueness
  • potential for reuse
  • non-replicability
  • full documentation

How should I dispose of confidential data that is no longer relevant?


Confidential documents should be shredded or placed in a confidential waste bag, which can be requested by emailing

The Information Compliance team at City also provides guidance on Data Destruction.


Electronic media such as disks and tapes should be cut up before being thrown away. If you need to dispose of confidential data, you must contact the IT Service Desk on 0207 040 8181 or via Self-Service for safe disposal.

How long do I need to store my data?

City advises researchers to keep their data for the completion of their project + 10 years. Some funders, however, might have some additional requirements; please check your funder’s website for more information.

If you are conducting a clinical trial (CTIMP) there are additional regulations covering data retention.  In summary trial data must be kept for 5 years after the end of the trial and data used for marketing authorisation must be kept for 15 years. However, some other data may be required to be kept indefinitely; please check the MHRA guidance on record retention.

To find out more about the duration of retaining your records please see the retention guidelines under the archiving section on this page.

Where do I store hardcopies of my data (i.e documents, hardware)?

Most data can be digitised. However, if for some reason any of your data cannot be stored online, and your School does not have any storage space to accommodate such request, City has a contract with an off-site archiving facility called ‘Restore’, which researchers can use to store/archive hardcopies. Please note that the cost will come out of the School budget.

Responsibility for the provision and maintenance of suitable storage and secure disposal facilities rests with Schools, who are responsible for arranging with the school administrator/ faculty assistant the identification, allocation and management of space and facilities to meet the needs of their staff and subject areas.

The requirements for data storage and archiving will vary depending on the academic discipline and may also be dictated by the funding body and/or publisher where relevant.

What happens if I leave City?

In the event of a member of staff leaving City, data and records relating to any research undertaken during the course of their employment remain the property of the institution unless otherwise agreed (i.e. as part of the terms of a funding agreement or in the case of the transfer of a grant to another university with a departing Principal Investigator).

The same considerations apply in the case of research students where the supervisor(s) should ensure that discussion takes place with their student, and where appropriate with the Head of Department in advance of the research student’s completion of their thesis/ and or departure from City.


Procedure for archiving hardcopy data and documents

Please consider scanning hard copies to minimise the amount of space required to store data. To store hardcopy documentation:

  • Please order archiving boxes from your School Administrator.
  • Fill the boxes with the paper materials.
  • More than one type of document can be placed in a box but where possible, it is helpful to keep project documents with similar destruction dates together.
  • Use the Project Archive Log to note which documents are stored in each box.
  • Print one copy of the log for each box and place on the external side.
  • If you are using more than one box, please number the boxes (1/3, 2/3, 3/3).
  • Please notify your School Administrator when the boxes are ready for archiving.

The boxes will be stored in a secure locked store room in your Department until capacity is reached. If capacity is reached in the store room staff will be notified to identify which documentation can be securely stored with an external storage company. This cannot happen without the Principal Investigator’s consent.

Procedure for retrieving hardcopy data and documents

To retrieve your archived box please email the saved completed copy of the Project Archive Log Log to your school administrator/ faculty assistant and indicate which box number you wish to have. Boxes will be returned to you within 7 working days from the day of your request [or 14 working days during the summer holidays].

Procedure for archiving electronic data and documents

To store electronic files:

Saved data, descriptions of methods (procedures and materials), meeting notes and draft papers should be saved in a folder that should be saved in OneDrive*. Folders should be labelled with the name of the study / Principal Investigator / destroy date (DD) and a clear sub-folder structure with appropriate names, for example:

Folder name: Principal Investigator, Brief study name or acronym, document destroy date [DD], e.g., JSmith_ICARUS_DD01012019


  • Archive details (copy of Project Archive Log; Ethics approval documentation; final study report)
  • Data files
  • Methods (e.g., study protocol, information sheets, materials)
  • Results tables
  • Meetings (i.e., project management, including minutes of research team meetings)
  • Drafts of papers for publication

When these files are ready, please contact the IT Service Desk on x8181 or via Self-Service with a request to archive the files. Please write the pathway for accessing the archived files on the (paper) Project Archive Log.  Any identifiable electronic data must be encrypted.

Retention guidelines

Description Retention Period
Records required to demonstrate good research practice (i.e. research data management plans, consent forms, accounting forms).
  • Retain for a period of 10 years after the completion of a research project.
  • Ensure you comply with your funders’ requirements (retain for whichever is longer).
Records containing personal information relating to clinical or public health studies funded by the Medical Research Council Retain for 20 years after the completion of a research project. Please check the MRC guide for more information.

Primary research data (and where possible/relevant specimens, samples, questionnaires, transcripts) including data generated in the course of a project which may have a secondary use of other research and learning.

*In exceptional circumstances primary research data such as videotapes might need to be retained as well. For example, disciplines such as Speech Therapy might need to keep the original tape (instead of only the transcript) as it might include elements that cannot be replicated by any other means.

  • Retain in their original form within the research establishment that generated them for a minimum of 10 years from the completion of the project.
  • Ensure you comply with your funders’ requirements (retain for whichever is longer).
Records documenting the registration of intellectual property, the registration of intellectual property rights (e.g. and trademarks applications and certificates). Retain permanently.
Records relating to IPR licensing agreements. Destroy 7 years after the intellectual property rights have lapsed.
All other records generated during a research project and not covered by any of the above disposal classes.

Retain for whichever is longer:

  • 7 years after completion of the project (statutory limitation period)
  • a period of time determined by the conditions set by the particular research sponsor.

Records of projects which:

  • are of historical importance
  • first used novel clinical interventions
  • proved controversial
A full set of records should be preserved permanently.
Working papers for the preparation of publications, audio-visual presentations etc. to disseminate research results (NOT interim or final research reports). Publication/Delivery + 1 year.
Final versions of publications and presentations made to disseminate research results (NOT interim or final research reports). Publication/Delivery + 3 years.
Records documenting the management of internally-funded research projects. Completion of project + 3 years.
Records documenting the management of externally-funded research projects. Completion of project + 6 years.

*an earlier version of the above table was presented as part of the ‘Research Records’ paper in the Research Ethics Committee in October 2014.


City’s Audit & Risk Committee (ARC) has issued a directive which requires City owned laptops and PCs to be encrypted, in order to reduce the risk of an unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information, due to accidental loss or theft.

The loss of any laptop belonging to the institution must be reported to the IT Service Desk. If you know of an institutional laptop that does not have encryption please contact the IT Service Desk.

More information can be found in the Mobile Device Security Policy.

City advises all members of staff and students to only use institutional devices when they are away on business (incl. field work). If possible store data on OneDrive, and not on the mobile device. If you are unsure how you can borrow encrypted electronic devices (including laptops and flash drives), please contact the IT Service Desk on 0207 040 8181 or via Self-Service.

Can I share or transfer personal data to third parties or outside of the UK?

  • Do not transfer or share files containing personal data with third parties unless you have obtained informed consent from the data subjects.
  • If the transfer of personal data is necessary, you should contact the R&E Strategy and Compliance team who will assist you in assessing ethical and legal risks, and prepare a data sharing agreement if sharing personal data is unavoidable.
  • If personal data of participants need to be transferred outside the UK, principle 8 of the Data Protection Act needs to be considered, which states that ‘personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless the country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data’. More information on sending personal data outside the European Economic Area can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
  • Care should be taken when transporting data in electronic devices during travel. Please visit the Encryption section above for more information.

If you have any questions please contact