How should Research Records be handled after the specified period of retention expires?

Before destroying Research Records, researchers should check the GRS for retention guidelines for administrative, financial and human resources records and consider, among other things, whether Research Records need to be retained for additional scientific or scholarly activities, whether Research Records may be needed for establishing or defending intellectual property rights, whether the Research Records may have significant future scientific or academic value, and/or whether the Research Records may have value as historical sources, including for the history of science or the history of other academic disciplines. 

In deciding whether and how to retain Research Records during and after the expiration of the required retention period, or before destroying Research Records, researchers should consult with the University Archives or their own School’s archives at HMS or HBS, which can answer questions on basic retention requirements and seeks, often in coordination with other units of the University, to preserve, or assist in the preservation of, University records that have special significance or historical or academic value.  See http://hul.harvard.edu/ and http://grs.harvard.edu.  Researchers concerned about intellectual property value of Research Records whose required retention period has passed may consult with the University’s Office of Technology Development.

In destroying or otherwise disposing of Research Records after the required retention period has expired, researchers should seek to assure both safety and completeness of destruction, and should consider, among other concerns, biosafety, radiologic safety, and the privacy and confidentiality of human resources and human subjects information. Schools should provide further discipline-specific guidance as to which types of Research Data and Materials researchers should consider destroying after 7 years.

See also: Data Retention