Archiving: what, when, and how long

Archiving means moving data that are no longer actively used to a separate data storage device for long-term retention. According to another definition, scientific data archiving is the long-term storage of scientific data and methods.

In any case, the existence of your data should be clear to potential reusers, so it should be listed in an open data catalogue. Many open data catalogues are under construction both in individual research institutes as well as at the national level in the Netherlands.

Frequently Asked Questions

Storing data encompasses less than archiving data. Data storage means saving it on some kind of storage device. Storage guarantees nothing about the data's preservation or availability in the long run.

What is archived varies widely between different scientific disciplines. The major research funders have varying attitudes towards public archiving of data. Scientific journals also have differing policies regarding how much data and methods you must archive in a public archive.

In a few fields, all (or most) of the data necessary to replicate the work is already published in the scientific article. In other fields, a great deal of data is generated and must be archived separately so researchers can verify that the data accurately reflect the claims. Your data should always be accessible to monitoring bodies (e.g., internal audits).

Minimum: A societal debate is taking place about the time period that data should be preserved for future use. This debate may result in an initial obligated period of 5-10 years after the project ends. Budget for long-term archiving after that period will need to come from sources other than your research project's budget. You should preserve your data as long as its potential value is higher than the archival and maintenance costs.

Maximum: There is no limit to the duration of preserving anonymized data.

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