There is a wide range of data held in the University, in many different formats, with research data being one of the most significant. It is important that, as well as planning for the curation of your data, you give consideration to how it will be destroyed where this is required for legal or other reasons. Guidance on when and who authorises the destruction of research data is covered in our section on Retention Periods and in the University Research Data Management Policy.
The following guidance is intended to assist in preventing unauthorised access to University data that is held electronically, especially when the device on which it resides is disposed of or recycled. It should be noted that;
Magnetic and Solid State Media
To enable the secure disposal of electronically held data, it is not sufficient to simply delete the folder or file(s) from your PC or other device, because the data remains on the media but the space previously allocated is now available to be overwritten at some point in the future. Even reformatting the storage is not guaranteed to make the data unavailable. There are several methods to ensure that electronic data held on magnetic and solid state media is secure from unauthorised access.
It is recommended that optical media such as DVDs and CDs are physically destroyed. A simple method is to use a suitable shredder. Note that not all shredders are capable of destroying optical media, please check the suitability of your shredder before using this method.
It is important that any data identified as sensitive and/or confidential and is not to be retained, whether for legal, ethical or other reasons, is destroyed carefully. The University Estates and Facilities provide a service for the removal of confidential waste. They define confidential was as
"material containing sensitive personal or business sensitive data which requires destruction to ensure that the contents remain private in order to comply with the Data Protection Act"
This would cover sensitive research print-based data. Requests for the removal of confidential waste should be made via Planon on SUSSED. However, if your data is highly sensitive you should seek advice from within your Faculty/Research/Academic group to confirm that this is appropriate for your material.