The Researcher's Tool Kit

Resources for working smarter

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Why store data and other research materials once a study has concluded?

Specific regulations are in place addressing how long you are required to store records after the completion of research, and you must keep records for the longest applicable period of time.  Typically, you must keep your research records for at least 5 years and possibly longer, depending on the longest applicable standard.  It is also best practice to retain data until there is no reasonable possibility that you will be required to defend against an allegation of scientific misconduct.  

Keep in mind…

  • Federal regulations require research records to be retained for at least 3 years after the completion of the research (45 CFR 46).
  • Some institutions require that data are kept for at least 5 years.
  • Research that involves identifiable health information is subject to HIPAA regulations, which require records to be retained for at least 6 years after a participant has signed an authorization.
  • Research sponsors may require longer retention periods.  Always check a Notice of Award for specific regulations.