Archiving research data

After collecting data for your research project, you might need to archive that data for the sake of scientific integrity. Or you might want to archive it to share your data with other researchers. On this page you can read which data to archive and where to do so for scientific integrity and reuse. 

Radboud University policy

Research data is all the information you generate as part of the scientific process on which the conclusions are based. Generally, research that is not exclusively based on summary, review or interpretation of earlier publications contains original research data that you could archive.

For scientific integrity, all research data should be stored during your research project, as laid out in Radboud University’s research data management policy. Because this includes all raw data, including personal or sensitive information, it may only be stored internally on the Radboud University infrastructure. After completion of a research project, it is Radboud University’s policy to share all useful data in open access archives.

Archiving for scientific integrity

What data should I archive?

For scientific integrity, you should archive:

  • All raw, processed and analysed data
  • Documentation and/or codebooks necessary for understanding the data
  • Readme.txt file for understanding the structure and content of the deposit
  • Informed consent forms and information documents
  • Approval by an ethics committee
  • Data management plan
  • Audit trails (a transparent description of the steps taken from the start of a research project to the development and reporting of findings)

Where to archive

Researchers from research institutes that take part in the Radboud Data Repository or the Donders Repository should store their data in a closed collection in the repository.

If the Radboud Data Repository is not yet available to your research institute, store your data in a work group folder on the Radboud University network. To make sure that your data is managed for the long term, grant reading rights to your institute’s data steward.

Archiving for reuse

What data should I archive?

For the purpose of sharing your data, you could archive:

  • Final versions of analysed data
  • Raw and processed data
  • Documentation and/or codebooks necessary for understanding the data
  • Readme.txt file for understanding the structure and content of the deposit
  • Empty copy of consent form and a copy of information brochure

Please note: not all data can or should be shared publicly. In the following cases, consider if your data should be archived in open access:

  • Your research data include personal data which can or may not be anonymized. Personal data can only be shared publicly if informed consent for data sharing has been given.
  • Your research data are confidential due to arrangements made with a third party sponsoring your research or because of the confidential nature of the data.
  • You intend to make a patent application and want to avoid prior disclosure.
  • Your data is already publicly available and/or you legally do not own the data.
  • Your research data might harm other research(ers).
  • Your research data lacks documentation making it easily subjected to misinterpretation.

Where to archive for data sharing

  • Data stored in the Radboud Data Repository or the Donders Repository can be made publicly accessible.
  • In some cases, it is possible to archive both your publication and your research data at a journal. When opting for this, make sure to not hand over any author rights belonging to your data.
  • offers an overview of data archives all over the world, covering all disciplines. 

Be aware of the different standards and guidelines offered by archiving repositories other than the Radboud Data Repository or Donders Repository. Please note: Data archived in a repository other than the Radboud Data Repository or Donders Repository should be registered in the university's RIS interface to make the dataset visible on your profile page and in Radboud University's and your faculty's research reports.

Alternatives to open access sharing

  • Data can be shared with restricted access. This means that your data is only accessible to re-users once you personally grant access. Depending on the archive, there are various levels of access to data.
  • Data can be embargoed for a fixed period of time. This means that the metadata of your data will be accessible, allowing it to be cited in related publications, but the data itself will not be made publicly accessible until the embargo has expired. This is possible in the Radboud Data Repository.

Retention periods

The minimum retention period for archiving research data is 10 years according to Radboud University’s policy. The university-wide policy does not lay down a maximum retention period. A research institute may opt for a longer minimum retention period and a maximum retention period as part of the institute’s policy.

Deletion of data with a maximum retention period

If a maximum retention period applies, your data should be deleted after that period. Discuss this in advance with your prospective archive/repository, because most archives want to retain data over the long term and may have policies in place that prohibit deleting the data.

Keep in mind that data you make openly accessible may be cited by others. Therefore, the metadata must remain accessible and you should clearly indicate why any files may be/may have been deleted.

Archiving non-digital research data

If you use non-digital data for your research, you need to store the hard copies of your data in compliance with Radboud University’s research data management policy and your research institute's policy. You can also digitise your data if the data lends itself to digitisation and if it is not too labour intensive to do so.

Archiving at your institute

Your research institute or department may have a centralised archive available for data in hard copy. That way, the institute manages both the data themselves and access to the data.

If your department does not have a centralised archive, keep the following in mind when archiving data in hard copy:

  • Appoint an archive administrator and a deputy who have exclusive access to the physical archive;
  • Store metadata on your data in a digital archive using persistent identifiers. This way, other researchers can find the data and request access;
  • Create a corresponding digital database with information on the rules and conditions for access as well as who accessed the data. You can use Microsoft Access to do this;
  • Separate anonymised data from informed consent forms, for example by keeping the forms in a locked cabinet in the archive;
  • Put in place a clear procedure for accessing and reusing documents;
  • Put in place clear procedures on the removal and/or the destruction of archive materials;
  • Keep the archive clean and up to date by making quarterly or yearly checks. Make sure that the contents of the physical archive match the records in the corresponding digital archive.

Digitising data

To digitise paper copies, follow the guidelines from Radboud University's substitution manual. Paper versions can be destroyed six months after digitisation. If any issues occur during the first 6 months (for example: skewed or missing pages, unreadable page, etc.) the paper version can be digitised again.

Be aware of the financial and labour costs that digitising may entail for you, and account for this in your planning. In some cases, digitising would be too time-consuming and/or too expensive; the data are not easily digitised, or the hardcopy must be archived because a digitised version is not acceptable.


Do you have a question? Get in touch with Research Data Management support:

+ 31 24 - 361 28 63