Archiving Records and Data in the ETH Zurich University Archives

All ETH members are expected to responsibly manage the documents and data they produce and receive in their day-to-day work. They are legally obligated to offer all documents and data of lasting legal, political, economic, historical, social, cultural or scientific value to the ETH Zurich University Archives.

The long-term value of documents and data

In cooperation with the data producers, the archivists determine which documents and data shall be archived for posterity. The ETH University Archives collect administrative records (in paper and digital form), faculty papers and manuscripts, as well as other historical documents. In the area of long-term preservation of digital information, the Archives cooperate closely with the Digital Curation Unit at ETH Zurich.           

Historically valuable records produced by ETH Zurich central units and departments include for example:

  • Annual reports of departments, institutes, laboratories, chairs etc.
  • Documents on the strategy and organisation of a unit (e.g. organisation charts)
  • Minutes of committee meetings, including supplementary documents
  • Documentation on important projects and initiatives
  • Evaluations and survey results on ETH Zurich and its members
  • Contracts and other legal documents (e.g. bylaws, memoranda of understanding, declarations of intent)

The ETH University Archives does not collect:

  • Financial and accounting documents, fund management data
  • Private correspondence (private e-mail)
  • Advertisements for products outside ETH Zurich
  • Newsletters (unless they are written by the respective ETH unit)
  • Confirmations of meetings and appointments
  • Regulations and other legal codes (except for the official ETH regulations)
  • Publications, preprints and postprints

More than 3.000 technical and administrative employees work in the central units and departments of ETH Zurich. The ETH University Archives offer them consulting on data management and business administration in their day-to-day work (find out more at Records Management)

Lecturers at ETH Zurich regularly create extensive scripts, reading lists and handouts for their courses. Occasionally, they also use their own photographs and other visualisations in their teaching. The ETH University Archives recommend storing and publishing these teaching materials in the ETH Research Collection (external link).

If legal or other reasons currently prevent publication, the ETH University Archives accept teaching materials in order to make them accessible to the public in the long-term.

The Digital Curation Unit is in charge of managing and archiving research data and offers professional advice and support for ETH members. The ETH University Archives collect research documents, which are of long-term interest for science.

Over the course of their careers, scientists create documents in research, teaching and administration. The ETH University Archives support faculty members in organising and archiving their personal papers and other valuable documents and data.

It is simply impossible to make an exhaustive list of records and documents of historical value. Thus, the ETH University Archives work closely with individual ETH units to determine which documents are to be preserved for the future and which are deleted or destroyed.

Submitting records for archiving

Please contact the ETH University Archives once you no longer need the records and data on a regular basis. Typically, this occurs about 10 years after the end of a project. A period of 10 years also corresponds to the retention period for documents stipulated in Swiss law.

To prepare a transfer of documents to the ETH Zurich University Archives, please create a summary list. This list serves as the basis for the decision-making process that determines which documents and data are worth archiving and which are not. A template for this list is available.

The archivists of the ETH Zurich University Archives are happy to visit faculty offices at ETH Zurich in order to get a general idea of the paper records and digital data, which are stored, by individual scientists as well as research groups. In addition, we organise the safe transport of documents and data to the ETH Zurich University Archives. Please contact us via e-mail at as soon as possible if you are planning to move your office.

Organisational units of ETH Zurich that transfer documents to the ETH Zurich University Archives continue to have access to these documents. The Swiss Federal Act on Archiving (external link) governs the conditions of public access to the administrative records of ETH Zurich.