Skip to Main Content
UCSF Library logo

Reproducible Data Management

Information and resources for reproducible data management for the UCSF research community

Data Services Librarian

Profile Photo
Ariel Deardorff
Subjects: Data Management

Data Retention

According to the UC Research Data Policy, "PIs are responsible for deciding what Research Data should be preserved or dispositioned, provided that legal, funder, or contractual requirements are met. Principal Investigators are responsible for knowing retention requirements of their scholarly discipline, campus departments, funding agencies, and applicable law and regulation, and for following the most stringent of these multiple requirements." Principal Investigators must take the following key circumstances into account when determining the retention period:

  • Inventions: Research Data must be kept as long as necessary to protect intellectual property and to complete University patenting and licensing procedures for inventions.
  • Allegations, Investigations and Litigation: If Research Data are the subject of any allegations of research or other misconduct, investigations or litigation, the University and University Researchers must preserve potentially relevant information until the Vice Chancellor for Research (or their designee), in consultation with Campus Counsel, issues instructions regarding disposition.
  • FDA-Regulated Research: If a research project involves articles regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consistent with 21 C.F.R. §§ 312.6 and 812.140, Principal Investigators must keep records for two years or as long as required following the date a marketing application is approved for the product; or if a marketing application is not filed or FDA-approved, for two years after the investigation is terminated, completed, or otherwise discontinued and the FDA is notified.
  • Student Participation in Research: If, in advancing to a degree, a student participates in the design, conduct or reporting of research, the Research Data connected to that research must be retained until the student has been awarded a degree, or until the student is no longer working on the project or is not enrolled in the University.

Find more research records retention information in the UCSF snapshot of research records.

Archiving Best Practices

Best practices for archiving research data include:

  1. Store data in open, non-proprietary formats for long term software readability (for recommended file formats see the CDL Digital File Format recommendations)
  2. Create digital versions of paper documentation in PDF/A format for long-term preservation and storage
  3. Consider depositing your data in a data repository that offers long-term preservation like Dryad