The media on which records are created and/or stored does not determine how long that they must be kept. It is the nature of the information contained in the records that drives the retention period. That being said sometimes in research raw data is transformed and the analysis is made upon the transformed data. As such the original data was transient and it is the transformed data that is required to be maintained. Further, several of the federal funding agencies—NSF and NIH among them—now require a data management plan and the ability to share the data which may be another reason to maintain the electronic data.
The retention period “Active” ends when the project is complete and starts the “clock ticking” on the final eight years of retention.