The demand for data storage continues to grow exponentially.  Without insight into the scale, demand and characteristics of national data storage capacity and the data collections they manage it is near impossible to design realistic investment strategies.


The Data Retention project is a three-year research sector partnership to increase the impact of investment in underpinning infrastructure that store important data collections. Partnerships in the Data Retention project will leverage contemporary research data management practices to enrich data collections with controlled and consistent structural metadata to drive the FAIR data principles, particularly the findability, accessibility and reusability of data collections.

To deliver a competitive advantage to Australian researchers and maximise the impact of valuable research data collections, researchers must have timely access to high quality data collections and stable, persistent infrastructure. The ARDC will partner with eligible Australian organisations supporting underpinning capacity to maximise the impact of important data output of Australian research.


The project is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1 2020-2023: Co-investment partnerships were established with organisations managing existing research data collections stored on legacy RDSI investments.  Partners are required to enrich these collections to a more FAIR state using 13 controlled metadata elements during the course of the project.
  • Phase 2 2021-2023: A co-investment partnership will be invited from Australian universities and NCRIS capabilities who manage important and valuable research data collections. Partners are required to enrich these collections to a more FAIR state using 13 controlled metadata elements during the course of the project.
  • Phase 3 2021- 2023. All project stakeholders will assess project effectiveness and build an impact and sustainability model to inform strategic vision and future investment targets to support significant national data collections.

Project Phase 1: Legacy Data Collections - 2020

Phase 1 has now closed.

Project Phase 2: Significant National Data Collections - 2021

This phase will invite single applications from Australian universities and NCRIS capabilities only.

To be eligible for this investment organisations will manage storage infrastructure at scale and will commit to a stepwise enrichment of important data collections with international metadata standards, beginning with 6 metadata elements (to demonstrate eligibility), followed by a further 7 metadata elements (to demonstrate value) over the course of the project.

For effective capacity management we will establish community demand via a single Expression of Interest (EOI) from each university and NCRIS capability.  Where a single university hosts multiple NCRIS capabilities we will accept applications from each as individual submission, even if they are all administered centrally  We will then invite more detailed Requests for Proposal (RFP) from some or all of the EOIs.

  • The EOI will run from 1st March 2021 until the 26th March 2021 and include two public webinars.
  • The RFP will run from Fri 16th April 2021 until the 7th May 2021 and also include two public webinars.


The EOI should estimate the centrally managed capacity volume of important data collections. Important data collections are those collections that possess enduring value post-project, characterised by citation in the scholarly record, intrinsic value as unrepeatable observation/interventions or the products of NCRIS capabilities.

If you are interested in submitting an EOI please first read the full project description, then submit your EOI. If you have a question please contact us. These questions and their answers will be entered into a public FAQ.


A more detailed RFP will be invited from some or all of the organisations submitting EOIs and require a more detailed ledger of data collections, fulfilling all 6 eligibility criteria, together with a co-investment budget  and concise project plan explaining how nominated collections will be enriched over the project period.


Our co-investment model will distribute $4.4 million as a per TB $AUD subsidy according to demand, representation and discipline distribution across applicants.  The investment will be staged over the project period (2021-2023) according to progress.  We will require a 1:1 co-investment for each application.

Project Phase 3: Impact Assessment - 2021

This phase concerns assessing the impact of the project investment.  It will be composed of two themes:

1. Progress assessment metrics

This will be an internal exercise to establish the capability of partners in reaching the metadata criteria during the investment period.  This activity will be used to influence ARDC and wider NCRIS programme roadmapping and future investment plans.

2. DataRetention@ARDC

This is a project forum for organisations participating in the Data Retention Project and will be used to help build a definition of ‘Data Collections of National Significance’, communicate and resolve issues arising from project activity, champion project goals in their wider communities, and contribute to building a realistic sustainability model to secure important and valuable data collections for the benefit of the Australian research sector.

computing platform
compute, cloud, storage, security
compute platform


The table below provides an indicative time frame for these activities, noting that the ongoing impact of COVID-19 is impossible to forecast and may result in significant changes over time.

1 Mar 2021Expressions of interest opening
9 Mar 2021EOI Webinar 1 Information and FAQ
18 Mar 2021EOI Webinar 2 Information and FAQ
26 Mar 2021Expressions of interest close
14-16 Apr 2021ARDC provides feedback for EOI submissions
23 Apr 2021Request for proposals open
29 Apr 2021RFP Webinar 1 Information and FAQ
5 May 2021RFP Webinar 2 Information and FAQ
14 May 2021Request for proposals close
4 Jun 2021Successful projects announcement
1 Oct 2021Deadline for contract execution

Relationship with other ARDC programs and investments

The Data Retention Project supports other ARDC investments by investing in a secure and sustainable data storage infrastructure and common metadata specification.  This project establishes a coherent and consistent view of important data collections across the national research sector and quantifies the operational requirements to store and present those collections in line with the FAIR Data Principles, established academic conventions and NCRIS Principles.  The minimal but purposeful metadata requirements do not significantly impact the context, utility or cultural oversight of important data collections.  Together with the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud, the Data Retention Project underpins a robust and responsive national data commons.


We will accept single applications that represent each higher education institution (specifically Higher Education Support Act 2003 Table A providers); and NCRIS Facility. Note that ARDC will need to contract with a legal entity.

Key Resources