Rethinking data sharing and human participant protection in social science research: Applications from the qualitative realm

Social science researchers, like any other researchers, produce data in their work, both quantitative and qualitative. Unlike other sciences, social science researchers have some added difficulties in meeting the data sharing initiatives promoted by funding agencies and journals when it comes to qualitative data and how to share it “both ethically and safely.” In this 2017 paper, Kirilova and Karcher describe the efforts of the Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University, considering the variables that went into making qualitative data available while trying to reconcile “the tension between modifying data or restricting access to them, and retaining their analytic value.” They conclude that such repositories’ goals should be towards “educating researchers how to be ‘safe people’ and how to plan for ‘safe projects’ – when accessing such data and using them for secondary analysis – and providing long-term ‘safe settings’ for the data, including via de-identification and appropriate access controls.”

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