IT Services Research Support Policies

Research Data Storage on Local Devices and Platforms

The University very strongly discourages the use of local storage devices (e.g., USB disks) and in-house data storage platforms (e.g., local NAS servers). We call these “point storage solutions”.

Why is use of point storage solutions discouraged?

  • There is an unacceptably high risk of unrecoverable data loss. This can be through hardware failure, or as a result of simple user error. Your data is usually valuable and could be the result of many months or years of research. Losing this data could have a significant detrimental impact on your work.
  • USB and other portable devices are easily lost or stolen, putting data they contain at significant risk of accidental or deliberate exposure.
  • It is very inefficient for IT Services to support point storage solutions. Indeed, it is often not possible; when technical assistance is required, we may be unable to help (because there is no resource available on the required timescale and because we have no familiarity or expertise with your chosen platform).
  • Storing data on point storage solutions is rarely compliant with University policy or with the regulations published by research funding bodies, including RCUK. Failure to satisfy these regulations puts the award of future funding at risk — funding councils mandate that data be managed and stored appropriately.

The Data Lifecycle — Research Data Storage Options

We recognise that there are many different use-cases for research data storage, including those in the research data lifecycle: creation, processing (perhaps with multiple steps), e-publishing and archiving. IT Services offer storage platforms which address all of these.

  • The Research Data Storage service, which can be used to store data in all parts of the lifecycle prior to publishing and archiving.
  • Dropbox for Business, which makes it easy to share files securely with people external to The University and to drop off files internally (just like run-of-the-mill Dropbox).
  • Mendeley Data, which should be used for making publishable data accessible, such as peer-reviewed papers and supporting files.
  • DataVault, an interim service which will support research data archiving — long-term retention of data in accordance with funding body policy, addition of metadata, discoverability.

The IT Services Policy

In the light of the above-outlined problems with point storage solutions and the availability of the storage services introduced above, our policy is as follows:

  • We offer centrally-administered storage solutions and can provide you with space on one or more of these for your data. These solutions are fully-supported by IT Services (and listed above).
  • We will be happy to hold an in-depth discussion with you to help us to understand your research data storage requirements. This is especially so in non-standard cases, for example, if you have sensitive data to store and process.
  • We will make all practicable efforts to help you to use our data storage services, for example, by considering cases for network upgrades and/or changes to our services.
  • We will not help set up, support or maintain point storage solutions except where existing solutions cannot meet your requirements and cannot be adapted to meet them.
  • If centrally-administered storage solutions cannot be adapted to your needs, we may be able to host a point storage solution in our Data Centres through the Research IT Hosting Service — you will be responsible for all system administration and Research IT will in no way be responsible for any data lost.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this policy, or would like to discuss your requirements with Research IT, please contact us via

Last modified on August 30, 2019 at 11:43 am by Simon Hood