Preserving all research data collected during a project might seem tempting. But this approach is costly and makes it difficult to discover the valuable data. It is also worth remembering that if you have something on file, then it might be subject to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
What to keep or delete
These following questions, based on material devised by the Digital Curation Centre, can help you decide what you should keep and what can be deleted:
- Does my funder or the University need me to keep this data and / or make it available for a certain amount of time?
- Does this data constitute the 'vital records' of a project and therefore need to be retained indefinitely?
- Do I have the legal and intellectual property rights to keep and re-use this data? If not, can these be negotiated?
- Does sufficient documentation and descriptive information (‘metadata’) exist 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?