Choosing what to keep for storage, and what can be disposed of or deleted. This is always going to involve a subjective judgement - nobody knows exactly what information is going to be wanted in the future.
All we can do is think the matter through carefully, abide by the policies we need to (e.g. from funders) and document decisions made and the reasons for them.
Keeping everything causes problems. Selection is worth bothering with because:
- Storage costs money;
- Storage requires effort / staff hours;
- Storing massive amounts of data complicates finding truly useful information;
- Freedom of Information laws mean that what is kept needs to be disclosed if requested.
A 'retention schedule' is a document detailing what your team or group should get rid of and when. The University's Records and Information Management service, based in the Data Protection and FoI Office, can help you develop retention schedules for your data.
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How do I know what to keep?
Base the decision on questions such as:
- What data does my funder or the university require me to keep?
- Is this data 'vital' to the project or organisation?
- Do I have the legal and intellectual property rights to keep and re-use this data? If not, can these be negotiated?
- Is there sufficient documentation to explain the data, and allow the data or record to be found wherever it ends up being stored?
- If I need to pay to keep the data, can I afford it?
DCC / ANDS, How to appraise and select research data for curation, [PDF, 921KB]
A guide explaining how to select data for the long-term.
The Records and Information Management service can help you by developing 'retention schedules' to determine what needs to be kept and when certain data can be disposed of.
For further advice please contact the Records & Information Management Service (R&IMS) on:
Telephone: 0141 330 3111