A best practice for publishing data is to make it as open as possible and as closed as necessary” because not all data may be publicly released.
Best practice: Save multiple versions of the data: one that is suitable for public release, and one that is suitable for further research but that is available on a highly restricted basis.
Research data can be subject to legal and ethical constraints which may limit how and when research can be published and data can be released to the public. Any research conducted involving human subjects must go through the review process of the University of Ottawa’s Research Ethics Board.
The Office of Research Ethics and Integrity has produced an internal guidelines document in order to help researchers navigate the REB process at the University of Ottawa. See Section 4 Anonymity, Confidentiality, and Privacy. These guidelines draw from the TCPS2.
Informed consent for the collection of data can include provisions for the sharing of that data
Consent Form Templates are available from the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity to help researchers design their consent documents.
To modify consent forms to include options for data sharing see the ICPSR Recommended Informed Consent Language for Data Sharing
Guidance on sharing this data within your project team
Data collection and analysis
Best practice: It is not recommended that you collect individual participant data using Excel. Use Excel only for analysis of de-identified or anonymized data. It is recommended that you use software designed for the collection and management of sensitive information.
Consult your Faculty IT representative or University of Ottawa Scientific Computing services for available software options.
Best practice: Train your research team to work with this kind of data. Contact the University of Ottawa INSPIRE laboratory for consultation services and training on data anonymization or de-identification, and developing workflows for handling individual participant data in your research team.
Storage and back-up
Best practice: Participant data should be password protected and stored with encryption on a secure server with role-based rights.
Consult your Faculty IT representative or University of Ottawa Scientific Computing services for available secure storage and encryption options.
- Czechowski, K. & Sylvestre, J. (2018) Manual for Ensuring Privacy, Confidentiality, and Secure Data Storage. Recommended procedures for individual participant data management, including collection, analysis, safeguarding, retention periods and disposition from the Centre for Research on Educational Services (CRECS), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa.
- Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) Data Stewardship and Sharing Guidelines outlines responsible workflows for maintaining and publishing research records when working in biomedical fields. OHRI Data & Security Guidelines are also available by request.
- University of Ottawa guidance on classification of data for appropriate secure storage measures can be found here: Policy 117 - Information Classification and Handling
- Policy 117 - Information Classification and Handling: University of Ottawa. While this is a useful reference for instiutional guidance on data handling, Policy 117 is not worded in a way that clearly applies to research data. Its focus is information collected and generated in the course the University’s administrative functions.
- Data and Materials Sharing: OHRI (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute)
- Czechowski, K. & Sylvestre, J. (2018) Manual for Ensuring Privacy, Confidentiality, and Secure Data Storage. Centre for Research on Educational Services (CRECS), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa.
- Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans-TCPS 2 (2018). Section 5, Privacy and Confidentiality describes safeguarding of information.
- De-Identification Guidelines for Structured Data. (2016) Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
- Reducing Risk: An Introduction to Survey Data Anonymization. (2020) Kristi Thompson, CARL Portage Webinar Series