Storing and preserving data

This guide provides several good practices in the storage of research data during data collection and in preserving your data after your project is finished.

You can start by watching this video about preserving research data in an optimal and technically correct way. This tutorial is part of the online training 'Learn to write your DMP'.

Preserving data


Storing your data properly can save you a lot of time (in finding and interpreting) and frustration (in not losing it). Moreover, when properly structured and annotated during research, you’ll have your data preserved and/or shared with minimal effort at the end of your research. To properly store your data, consider the following: 

2. Good practices in preserving data

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (VSNU, 2018) states that research data must be kept for (at least) 10 years. The Utrecht University Policy Framework for Research Data adds that this 10 year period starts after you have published your paper based on the data you are preserving. For medical records, this period is 15 years or longer (WGBO (article 454)) and (patient) data for drug research must be stored for 20 years. For the UMC Utrecht Research Data Management policy, see the UMCU intranet page. The AVG/GPDR states that personal data may not be kept longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they were collected or for which they are used. Non-anonymised data may, however, be preserved for historical, statistical or scientific purposes. 

So, how will you keep your data safe for the long term? Having a solution for preserving data for the long term can be pursued in several ways. Preservation can be done on tape, disk, or via cloud storage. You can use a commercial solution, or ask Research Data Management Support to set up an archive. You can use a free, public repository for research data, with added possibilities for sharing your data (See our guide 'Publishing and sharing data') or you can preserve the data yourself. If you choose the latter option, some best practices are provided here:

3. IT-solutions for storing and preserving data

See 'Tools for storing and managing data' for an overview of the tools Utrecht University has developed, supports and endorses.