Disposal of research data

This information is aimed at those of you who have to make decisions about disposal of research data.

Research data are public documents and public documents may only be disposed of if there is a disposal decision. Research data can be divided into three levels for retention and disposal.

Level 1

This is primary data that is to be retained indefinitely. The data serves as the basis for published research results and meets one or more of the National Archive's retention criteria.

  • Interdisciplinary value
  • Value for another research field
  • Scientific history value
  • Cultural history value
  • Personal history value
  • Significant public interest
  • Longitudinal studies

Decisions on retention or deletion of research data are made by the head of department at the department where the research is conducted. Determining whether research data falls under one of the retention criteria is difficult and requires good knowledge of the data. For this reason, the researcher must participate in assessing whether the research data should be disposed of or retained.

Crucial for determining if the research data meets the retention criteria is a qualified assessment based on the head of the department's and the researcher's grasp of their own field. Sometimes it is difficult to determine immediately after publication whether the research data lives up to any of the criteria. This is why it is important for the department to have procedures for reassessing a disposal decision before deletion occurs. The data management plan is a good tool when making or revising disposal decisions.

Some indicators to note when deciding whether to delete data can be:

  • The published results have gained wide-spread distribution within and outside its field.
  • The research data is often requested for additional research and/or review.
  • The individual who created the research data has gained public recognition or in other way distinguished themselves.
  • The research data is large scale or difficult to recreate.

Level 2

This is primary data that is not to be retained but that is the basis for published research results. This type of data is to be retained for at least 10 years, depending on the type of research and requirements from any research funding organisations. The retention period for data can be found in the Retention and deletion plan.

Level 3

These type of data are of a temporary and minor nature and can therefore be deleted when the project is concluded.

Additional data that can be deleted at the end of a project is secondary data, data from another accountable authority or other projects, where the collection method, accountable authority and selection are documented in such a way that the research data can be recreated.

Research data that is not used can be deleted at the conclusion of the project. All research data generated or collected in a project is not always used in the project. This can be data collected for calibration of an instrument, data that is not sufficient for a publication, etc. To delete this type of data, you must first ensure that the information is not important for assessing the published results.

Practical management of disposable data

Level 2 data that is to be deleted is to be stored in a secure area that adheres to the protection level specified by the research project's information classification. The data is stored in a structure that enables monitoring of retention dates and searching for the research data. See examples of folder structures under the headline Related Information. In addition to a clear folder structure, the research data is to be registered in the department's records inventory.

Archive Coordinator at the department monitors retention periods, conducts disposals and handles the list in the Visual Archive. Archive Coordinator must therefore be initiated in what has been decided and have access to the area for disposals.

Level 3 data is to be disposed of before other data is sent for archiving and storage.

Contact information


Visiting adress
University Administration Building, floor 3

Chatarina Wiklund