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 head of Preservation, Conservation and Digital Imaging entitled Guidance for the Long Term and Permanent Preservation: Principle 6.

See also: Data Retention