Data protection legislation and ethics

Data protection legislation and ethics

How do ethical and data protection issues affect my research data?
How do I negotiate consent with research participants?
How do I store the data?
How do I share / publish my findings?
Further reading
Who can help me with data protection and ethics at the University of Glasgow?

How do ethical and data protection issues affect my research data?

Ethical guidelines issued by funders and the University cover how you can create and store data.  In addition, laws such as the Data Protection Act 1998, governs the processing of personal data.

Under the University of Glasgow’s Ethics Committee, all non-clinical research involving human subjects requires ethical review through your School Ethics Committee. 

How do I negotiate consent with research participants?

A consent form should be completed by all participants when conducting interviews or research.  Participants should be asked to sign a consent form which outlines:

  • What the data is being collected for;
  • Who will process the data;
  • Any likely reuses of the data.

The University College/School¬†Ethics Committees provide sample consent forms for researchers to use. For surveys or audio-visual data, consent requirements may be different. 

Please consult your College/School Ethics OfficerCommittee structure for more advice.

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How do I store the data?

Sensitive research data requires appropriate security measures.  Regularly altered passwords should be used to gain access to material and research outputs should only be retained for as long as is required. 

The University Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office have produced guidance on managing research records explaining how to handle research data in compliance with legislation.

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How do I share / publish my findings?

There can be a tension between abiding by data protection legislation and ethical guidelines, whilst fulfilling funder and public expectations to make research results available. 

Confidential and personal data e.g information which identifies an individual can only be shared if consent has been given for this.  It's typical to protect identities through anonymisation and control access by restricting who can use the data.  Consult with your Ethics Committee if you are unsure whether your data can be shared or published.

The UK Data Archive provides some useful guidance on consent and ethics.

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Further reading

UK Data Archive, Consent and Ethics overview [WEB, approx. 1 page]

This provides links to more information on a variety of areas related to ethics.

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Who can help me with data protection and ethics at the University of Glasgow?

Ethics
Consult your College Ethics Officer.  They are listed with contacts here: University Ethics Committee homepage

The College Ethics Officer should be consulted for all research involving human subjects.  

Data Protection
Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office

Specific enquiries should be directed to the University Data Protection Officer:
Data Protection Office, Gilbert Scott Building, University of Glasgow G12 8QQ
Email: dp@gla.ac.uk
Telephone: 0141 330 3111

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