Research Records

Retention periods for records relating to research

This Retention Periods for Records relating to Research Guide provides the minimum legal retention periods for the various classes of records relating to research:

  1. Research data
  2. Ethics committee and process records 
  3. Records relating to the ownership of intellectual property 
  4. Records relating to research reporting
  5. Other records related to the administration of research

It compares where appropriate the retention periods required under the NSW State Records Act 1998 through the NSW State Archives & Records Authority’s General Retention and Disposal Authority ‐ Higher and Further Education Records (GA47) and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Where there is a conflict between retention periods from these authorities the longer retention period is the retention period that should be applied.

This information should be read in conjunction with the UNSW Research Code of Conduct, the UNSW Procedure for Handling Research Material and Data and UNSW guidance on records disposal.

Responsibilities for researchers

The UNSW Research Code of Conduct (R9) and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (R22) require that researchers retain, "clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials."

Determining when to dispose of research records

There is a significant cost to the University in storing records, particularly paper records, for periods longer than those for which it is legally obliged to retain the records. Records should therefore, be destroyed once their retention period has expired and they are no longer required for their original purpose.

Records which are required for known, or reasonably anticipated, litigation, inquiries or investigations, or records that may be relevant to allegations of research misconduct must not be destroyed or otherwise disposed of until the litigation or investigation has been concluded. They should not be retained 'just in case' litigation or inquiries may arise at some time in the future

Further information on the processes for destroying University records is available here.