How can you protect your research data?
March 10, 2020
A locked filing cabinet was perhaps once the best available way to protect interview data. Today, hybrid cloud integration is much more effective.
You probably know someone who has lost months’ or even years’ worth of interviews and analyses in an instant. There are many reasons for this: hard drive loss or theft, fire, data saving error, and many more! Fortunately, by combining the trusted old filing cabinet and LiGRE cloud technology, you can get the best of both worlds!
1. Anonymize your respondents
Before you begin working on your transcriptions, assign aliases, codes or letters to respondents’ names. Then, create a document containing the personal information of your respondents, and the code they were assigned. For instance, the document could allow you to remove a participant’s responses upon request.
2. Store interview data on the cloud
Upload your interview transcriptions in LiGRE and use only the identification codes to differentiate between respondents. Then, remove any information from the transcription that could potentially allow identification of a respondent. For example, if they have provided their address, remove it from the transcription.
3. Keep all personal data under lock and key
Keep the document containing respondents’ personal information locked away, and limit access to it. It may be useful to have two copies of these documents (e.g., a hard copy stored in Room A, and a digital copy on a USB key kept in Room B).
4. Destroy confidential documents
After a reasonable period of time, depending on your subject, destroy the personal information that was kept under lock and key. As for the anonymized interview data, that’s up to you! You may keep it for future reference in the comfort of the cloud or ask the LiGRE team to wipe it permanently from your account. Caution: Be sure to thoroughly reformat any digital mediums where the data was saved. Simply deleting it is not enough to prevent it from being retrieved. We recommend that you read the following: Five steps to wipe a computer hard drive.