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What are some best practices for preparing qualitative data for sharing?

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Mary.Whelan's picture
The basic areas to be concerned about are revealing confidential information about study participants (e.g., names, SSN) or locations (e.g., sites of confidential research or conservation efforts) or any other sensitive information that could lead to the identification of an individual (e.g., email address, password, credit card number, Census Block) or location. The Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan has an excellent summary of best practices for qualitative research data sharing and human subject confidentiality – http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/content/deposit/guide/chapter5.html.... great guide was written by the Austrailian National Data Service -- http://ands.org.au/guides/sensitivedata.html. If you are responding to a faculty or graduate student inquiry, remind them that this was likely discussed (if it is a University based study) when the Principal Investigator got permission from the college or university’s Human Subjects Committee (also known as the Institutional Review Board). Periodically reviewing and following those guidelines during the active research phase is a recommended practice. Many universities have an online class covering the basics of human subjects research and confidentiality and this is another good source of information (e.g., UCLA - http://dataarchives.ss.ucla.edu/archive%20tutorial/restricteddatause.html). Finally, many disciplinary communities have guidelines and ethics statements that contain best practices (though not always labeled as such). Check the national society website (e.g., American Anthropological Association - http://ethics.americananthro.org/about/; American Sociological Association - http://www.asanet.org/images/asa/docs/pdf/Ethics%20Code.pdf) for discipline specific guidelines.