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Research Data Management Toolkit: Storage & retention

Best practices in Research Data Management promote research integrity and collaborative opportunities. A Data Management Plan ensures data security, accessibility and validation of results.

Storing your research data

The intellectual property your research creates is just as valuable to cyber criminals as it is to you. Adversaries may steal your data to make a profit, advantage other nations or disrupt research activities on ideological basis. Ensuring adequate security measures are in place is therefore paramount. 

Security starts with you.  You are responsible for safeguarding your own data and your research project, as well as UWA’s reputation. The University provides you with multiple options to securely create, store, collaborate on, and publish, your data. It is important you carefully establish the information protection classification of your research and utilise tools and systems that cater for the sensitivity level of your project.

The following storage matrix provides an overview of common data storage options. The Supported and Recommended Section outlines UWA’s preferred options and their key features to help you make an informed choice.

1 - More storage can be requested from Uni IT via ServiceNow

2 - Deleted files can only be recovered from backup within 90 days. Files not deleted are retained indefinitely.

UWA Institutional Research Data Store: IRDS

The UWA IRDS provides researchers with a centralised, secure and UWA-supported data storage facility to store electronic research data, enabling ongoing access to these valuable assets at no cost to researchers and in a broad range of file types.

A share in the IRDS can be requested through the ServiceNow self-service page.

Store owners can assign access permissions to their UWA collaborators via Service Desk forms available at the ServiceNow self-service page.

An IRDS share can be mapped to your drives for use on campus:

External collaborator access to your IRDS Store can now be achieved by asking your external collaborators to complete a human resources form.

For assistance contact 

Retention and disposal

Determining how long your data needs to be retained has many benefits:

  • compliance with minimum retention periods;
  • effective use of storage resources for data which has long-term value;
  • reduced volume of data making it easier to manage and maintain descriptive metadata records;
  • reduced storage costs; and
  • efficient and effective file organisation for quick reuse. 


Research data must be retained in order to satisfy:

  • researcher needs in the current research climate;
  • future research needs; and
  • compliance with legislation, policies, funding agency guidelines, publisher requirements or contracts.

According to the WAUSDA (WA University Sector Disposal Authority), all research data needs to be retained for at least 7 years after publication or conclusion of the project, but many types of data need to be retained significantly longer and in some cases permanent retention is required.

Factors leading to longer prescribed retention periods include:

  • data relating to clinical trials or the use of hazardous materials;
  • data which has long-term impacts on the particular field of research, such as a shift in the paradigm; or which has high public interest; and
  • data which is instrumental in the establishment of intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks or copyright. 


WAUSDA Quick Guide to Determine the Retention of Research Records

Definition of major research

Records relating to University research projects with outcomes that are or become:

• of high interest;

• the subject of widespread debate or contention in the public arena;

• have a major national or international significance;

• change the commonly held view or approach (paradigm shifting);

• alter or vary the typical example;

• where the principle investigator has a widely acknowledged influence in the area of scholarship;

• representative case for or epitome of a subject;

• projects that involve the use of major or new innovative techniques;

• have potential major or long term impact on the environment, heritage, society or human health; or

• have a legislative requirement to retain the records permanently, such as research involving Gene Therapy and Biotechnology.

Minor research

Records relating to research that is not deemed major, as outlined above.

Definition of a clinical trial

A clinical trial is a form of human research designed to find out the effects of an intervention, including a treatment or diagnostic procedure.

A clinical trial can involve testing a drug, a surgical procedure, other therapeutic procedures and devices, a preventive procedure, or a diagnostic device or procedure.(definition from: National Health & Medical Research Council (2009) National Statement on the Ethical Conduct of Human Research, pg 33)



Once your data has passed the minimum retention period as described in WAUSDA, you will need to complete a RADS (Records, Archives & Digitisation Services) Record Item Listing (template available via the Staff Intranet or on request to The RADS team will then confirm the minimum retention period of the research data and ensure there are no current Freedom of Information or other outstanding actions on the records before initiating the destruction approval process. 

Once approval of destruction is granted secure destruction of research data involves using irreversible methods to ensure that the data is no longer usable. It is particularly critical that confidential or sensitive data remains unreadable.

Non-digital data should be physically destroyed using appropriate methods which are as secure and environmentally friendly as possible. Physical records must not be discarded using paper recycle bins or ordinary waste bins.

Please contact for assistance in organising the provision of secure destruction services. 

Relevant documentation:


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