Archiving research material

Most types of research material are public documents and must be archived, irrespective of the research method and financial backer.

What are "research documents" and what do they entail?

"Research documents" are any documents or records that are produced during the research process and can be divided into three groups.

  • Administrative documents – project plans, agreements and contracts, grant applications personal administration
  • Primary data – surveys, information compilations, medical journal excerpts, datasets
  • Publishing documents – articles, published papers

What is an official document and does it include primary data?

Umeå University is a public authority and as such it is governed by the principles of public access to information. This means that documents that are drawn up, received or held by the university are official documents that the public has the right to request access to, and this includes primary data. All official documents must be archived at the authority. 

When a document is published, a lab notebook is drawn up, or an answer to a survey is received, it becomes an official document.

Information in the official document can be deemed as confidential if the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act supports such interpretation.


Who owns the research documents/primary data?

Umeå University is the organizer for all the research conducted at the authority and it is the university that owns the research documents that its employed researchers process. This means that all research documents must be archived at the university and researchers who leave or change employment cannot remove the research documents from Umeå University.

How do I prepare research documents for archiving?

Every department is responsible for archiving research documents produced by its researchers. The researcher should always contact the archives coordinator and registrar early in the research process to decide how the project should be processed.

How the different types of research documents are to be processed is described in the Records management plan – Conducting research.
Before you can start your project, you need to perform an information classification risk and vulnerability analysis. Read more further down.

The records management plan states that, amongst others, grant applications must be registered. How?

Registration is to be done within the department's own registry. Contact the registrar coordinator to get a registration number (this is called 'diarienummer' and shortened 'dnr' in Swedish)
Registration is to be done continuously during the project, not just at the end of it. If there is a great number of documents to register, they can be registered with the same registration number.

Why do I have to archive this? Nobody but I will use it anyway.

To archive means to retain for posterity. Not all primary data has to be archived, but everything has to be stored for a certain time before it can be decided if it should be retained or disposed of.

All primary data must be stored for 10, 15 or 17 years depending on what kind of research is conducted or who funds the research. After the last publication has been completed, the head of department decides if the data is unique or valuable enough to archive after the storage period has passed. Good research practice presupposes that research documents are processed according to the archiving regulations.

All my material is saved onto a server at the department or in a system. How do I archive or store it?

Before a project proceeds and to decide what kind of security measures the information requires, the project needs to have an information security classification and make a risk vulnerability analysis. ITS can help you find the right solution for you.

If you conduct research on personal or sensitive information, you will need to take stronger security measures than if you keep a lab notebook. The data can be stored in a secure server or in a system during the storage period.

What do I need to do when it comes to structuring the data and to make it findable?

You need to make sure that there are routines to confirm the authenticity of the data and ensure that the data is complete and correct. Make sure to structure your research data in a uniform way and use a well-thought-out folder structure. The University Library's pages for research data have more information about how to best structure your data. Name your files in a uniform way with names that make sense, and make sure that your files are backed up regularly.

What formats should I use for storing documents and other information?

Digital formats run the risk of becoming obsolete over time. Consequently, you must make sure that the formats used are suitable for long-term preservation. This means to choose formats that are commonly used, readable by different programs and well documented. See the Swedish National Archives' regulation (2009:2), Riksarkivet, for approved archive formats.

What is metadata and what are metadata standards?

Metadata is data about data or information that describes the data. Metadata standards are sets of rules for how to structure and formulate metadata. This simplifies the transfer of metadata and makes the primary data easier to access and find. The Umeå University Library research data group has more information about metadata and metadata standards.

How to handle analogue primary data?

Documents must be stored and archived in the same format as they were created. Analogue material, such as paper surveys for instance, should be logically stored, sorted by name or date, in an archive box. Boxes can be bought through the university's e-commerce system (Raindance Marknadsplats).

The box is to be marked with the following:

  • Type of documents found in the box, for instance surveys
  • What project the documents belong to
  • What time period the documents were created during
  • Other information that facilitates the understanding of the documents

Contact the department's archive coordinator for more information.

How should primary data that can be disposed of be processed?

After 10, 15 or 17 years have passed, the university must decide if the primary data is to be retained or disposed of. Umeå University, through the head of department, has to consider if the primary data has any of the following characteristics:

  • High value for the research field
  • High interdisciplinary value
  • High importance for science history
  • High importance for cultural history
  • High importance for personal history
  • High interest for the general public

If the head of department decides that the primary data can be disposed of, a disposal protocol must be filled out and registered at the department.

How do I fill out a deletion protocol?

A deletion protocol must contain:

  • The amount of data being disposed of. For analogue material, please use shelf meter. For digital data, please use MB/GB
  • Date of disposing
  • Under what regulation the disposing is conducted. Information about regulations can be found in the records management plan
  • The head of department's signature.

Contact information


Visiting adress
University Administration Building, floor 3

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