Data Retention

How do faculty ensure that what they determined was essential at the outset is not found to be too limited when there actually is a major academic finding or scientific discovery?

There is no practical way to assure that all information one might wish to keep concerning major academic findings or scientific discoveries will have been kept at the time one recognizes the significance of such findings or discoveries.  The important thing to keep in mind is that such events occur and that, as an academic institution, Harvard places value on maintaining the records of these singularity events for the benefit of future teaching and scholarship.  For further information, please reference the guidance and appendices developed by the University Archivist and the...

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How does this Principle operate in practice?

Recognizing what may be a major academic finding or major scientific discovery is not always possible at early stages of a project.  Faculty are not expected to foretell the future.  However, this principle should be kept in mind and when it does happen that a finding or discovery is recognized as a breakthrough or of potential historical significance, the usual record retention practices that apply to such information should be reconsidered in order to determine if a larger than usual set of records should be archived for posterity.  For further information, please...

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What types of grant-related correspondence must be retained?

In conjunction with sponsored research, the following written correspondence must be retained in GMAS:  (1) Grant application;  (2) Renewal application;  (3) Quarterly reports/progress reports;  (4) Any emails that address budget issues;  (5) Any emails that address the scope of the work;  and (6) Grant agreements and any amendments.  

How must emails be stored/retained? Must all emails related to research be retained/made accessible?

To the greatest extent reasonably possible, electronic mail relating to University sponsored research should be routed through the University’s email network or otherwise archived on University-owned equipment.  Harvard researchers should use their best efforts to use only their Harvard.edu email accounts to send and receive messages relating to their research work or any potentially patentable inventions that may arise from such work.  When this is not possible, as in cases in which the University electronic mail system is not reasonably available, is...

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May students and post-doctoral fellows take research data and materials with them when they leave the University?

Ordinarily, when researchers, including students and postdoctoral fellows, who have been or are involved in sponsored research projects leave Harvard, they may take copies of Research Data and Materials from projects on which they have directly worked, unless the process of copying or division could damage or render unusable the Research Data and Materials or could harm the integrity of an ongoing research project,...

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May Research Records be transferred to a new institution upon the departure of a Principal Investigator?

The Principles and this guidance are not intended to alter Harvard’s longstanding institutional practice of assisting, within reasonable parameters, faculty who wish to move from Harvard and to continue ongoing scholarship and research at another   academic institution.  However, other institutional values also must be respected, even as Schools and the University seek to facilitate the transition of a departing faculty member’s ongoing research and scholarship.  For example, when Principal  Investigators who have been or are involved in sponsored research leave...

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Under what circumstances will the University seek to access Research Records?

The University, School and departmental administration may access Research Records for a variety of purposes, including the need to respond to audit requests or other requests for access to research information from funders or prime award recipients, to comply with valid subpoena requests or other court- or agency-ordered discovery, to defend claims asserted against the University, or when necessary, to investigate allegations of research misconduct or other regulatory violations.  See, e.g...

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How do researchers ensure that Research Records are accessible?

In general, Research Records are accessible because they are housed in Harvard facilities and/or on Harvard equipment.  By working with their cognizant submitting office (OSP, HMS SPA, HSPH SPA), researchers and their administrators can insert provisions in subcontracts, subawards, data use agreements, and material transfer agreements (among other documents), that will assure Harvard access to Research Records housed off-campus.  However, researchers should note that preservation of Research Records alone may not be sufficient to allow access, due to changes in technology.  ...

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How can access be assured if Research Records are produced, maintained, or stored off-campus?

When researchers, research team members or administrators produce or obtain Research Records in non-University locations, or when Research Records are produced or obtained by subcontractors, subawardees or vendors whose activities in this regard are funded by or under University sponsored research, it is the responsibility of Principal Investigators, all research team members and administrators to ensure that:  (a) these Research Records are stored and maintained safely and appropriately; (b) the Research Records are provided to the University at the earliest opportunity and in...

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