Laws and regulations governing the archiving of research data

Research data must be stored correctly for KI to comply with the laws and regulations governing public agencys. Research data must be saved for at least 10 years of the conclusion of a research project.

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Which laws and regulations govern the archiving of research data?

The archive of a goverment agency is based, accordingly to the Archives Act (1990:782), on all the public documents from the agency´s activities. Research data created at a government agency will often fall within the scope of what constitutes a public document, as defined in the Freedom of the Press Act (1949:105). This means that research data, just like any other public document, must be handled in accordance whit the provisions of the Archives Act.

Section 3 of the Archives Act states that a government agency´s archive be kept, organised, and preserved in a way that comply with

  1. the right of access to public documents,
  2. the need for information for the purposes of justice and administration, and
  3. the needs of research.

The agency must protect the archive from destruction and unauthorised access. The Archives Act does allow for disposal (i.e. destruction) of public documents, as long as the above purposes are fulfilled.

At public agencies such as KI, all disposal of public documents must be done in compliance with the regulations issued by the National Archive. The regulations and general recommendations of the Swedish National Archives concerning the disposal of documents in research activities conducted by government agencies (RA-FS 1999:1) prescribes rules for government agencies research documentation, including research data.

KI´s Records Schedule for documents contains the university´s internal rules for management of public documents. It is based on the regulations issued by the National Archives and defines the types of documents to be archived, disposed (and when) and registered. The Records Schedule builds on the university´s five core fields of activity. Field activity 4, Researching contains provisions on research documents, including research data.


For how long must research data be saved?

Research data may be disposed of no earlier than 10 years after the results have been reported and published, and after a final financial report has been made.

In some cases, research data shall be exempted from disposal and preserved indefinitely. This relates to research data that has been deemed to:

of lasting value to their own or another scientific field

of significant value to scientific, cultural, or personal history

of significant public interest

Examples of such research data can be

particularly substantial primary material that is unique or that can only be recreated with great effort;

registries and databases containing data of a particularly high degree of coverage and verifiability;

or data that has attracted considerable attention in the public debate.

Please note that the above is in accordance with the National Archives regulations and KI´s records schedule. In some cases, there may be other regulations, rules or agreements requiring research data to be saved for a longer period. However, research data may not be disposed earlier than stated in the National Archives regulations and KI’s Records Schedule.  

It is the responsible researcher who is most familiar with the material and who is therefore best suited to deciding whether the data are to be preserved or disposed (in accordance with the above criteria). This is to be done as early as possible.

Also note that for as long as the research data are archived, all accompanying research documentation must also be archived.

Can I take research data with me?

If you are the responsible research and change employer, the principle is for your research data to be kept by and prepared for archiving at Karolinska Institutet. If you still wish to take the data with you, one possible solution is to take copies (a legal advisor and/or data protection officer should, however, be contacted if any of the material is classed as confidential or contains personal details). Another is for your new university to have the material on temporary loan.

If an entire research unit transfers from Karolinska Institutet to another public authority, there might be reason to also transfer the documents necessary for the new authority’s own activities. In such cases, a note must be made in Karolinska Institutet’s archive report and extracts from the report sent to the National Archives. For further details, see the National Archives webpage on transferring archives (in Swedish only). Karolinska Institutet’s archives unit must always be contacted if such transfer is to go ahead.

Contact the archive

If you have any queries about the laws and regulations on the archiving of research data, contact us at

Some departments at Karolinska Institutet also have their local archivists, who can be contacted for information about the archiving of research data. More details about this can be found under local content below.