Research records should be retained, generally, for a period of no fewer than seven (7) years after the end of a research project or activity; for specific guidance on how long to retain different types of records or to obtain assistance with handling records that have met their mandated retention periods, contact Archives and Records Management.
For more information on applicable guidelines:
The Harvard University Office for Sponsored Programs organizes several resources, including OVPR’s Retention and Maintenance of Research Records and Data.
The Harvard University Archives General Records Schedule considers research data under the same rubric as Sponsored Project Administration Records.
The Harvard Office of Technology Development offers guidance on the data retention practices necessary to support intellectual property.
The HMS Office for Academic and Research Integrity provides a variety of HMS Faculty Policies and Procedures for Integrity in Science.
Research data and materials include recorded, tangible, or intangible research information, regardless of form or the media on which it may be recorded, that is created or collected in the process of performing research, whether supported by University resources or by external funders.
Research data and materials include, but are not limited to:
- computer software (computer programs, computer databases, and documentation thereof),
- materials such as unmodified and modified biological specimens,
- new or modified chemical entities,
- laboratory notebooks,
- notes of any type,
- materials submitted to and/ or approved by IRB, IACUC, or other research oversight committees (e.g., applications, outreach/ advertising materials, consent forms, survey routines/ questionnaires and debriefing scripts),
- photographs, films, audio recordings, digital images,
- original or modified biological and environmental samples,
- gels, spectra, cell lines, reagents,
- protocols, algorithms, graphs, charts,
- numerical raw experimental results,
- instrumental outputs,
- other deliverables under sponsored agreements; intangible data such as statistics, findings, conclusions, other deliverables under sponsored agreement; and any other records of, or in any form that could be used for, reconstruction and evaluation of reported or otherwise published results of research.
Essential research records are those research records integral to substantiating grant applications or demonstrating compliance with contractual terms, if sponsored research; substantiating published research and patents, whether or not the research is sponsored; substantiating research described in grant proposals and other funding requests; and scholarship that should be considered for long-term preservation and access by the University Archives or the local archives of Schools.
Essential research records also include any research data or materials designated as essential by the Schools, consistent with the best practices for the relevant discipline.