What are perceived risks with sharing data?


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Angela Okune's picture
November 19, 2020

This excerpt from the interview speaks to:

1) the ways in which consent forms-as much as I observed that they are often more symbolic than actually used verbatim in introducing of the research-are nonetheless still an important reference point for researchers when determining what can and can't be shared beyond the research encounter.

2) heirarchies of what is considered higher quality research work. In this example, the interlocutor mentions research that is conducted by an institution (rather than an individual) is seen as more legitimate. It is "lesser" if there is no institution behind a researcher. A pilot is also seen as "lower" on the heirarchy of credible and legitimate research (data).

3) sharing the research data is seen as potentially risky for certain institutions because it could paint them in a bad light. This is something that has emerged from my participant observation at a separate organization which was most concerned about reputational risk for their company. Thus in this excerpt, the interlocutor notes that clearance at multiple different levels would likely be needed (and it would not only take time but probably be challenging to get approved at all levels).


3:43: “Of course after I read it, if I remember. I would feel comfortable. I would have to look at how we...what kind of information was in the consent for them. Yeah, I'll have to check, what did we tell them? And then yeah...because also it's institutional yeah? Because this project we were doing it not as an institution by the way. It's a pilot at a lower level. So it speaks of students' experiences, which some of them could be perceived by the University as damning for their reputation. So there could be need for clearance at some different levels, especially because it’s…”

Angela Okune's picture
March 13, 2020

AO: This interlocutor raised the following challenges/risks of data sharing:

- Who is responsible/has the mandate/time to do the labor required to surface the information (e.g. make a summary page with various links to different data points/resources; add the context to the data that was collected; sort through data request emails and approve/disprove; etc.)

- Uncertainty about what the client is okay with in terms of sharing because this is not an explicit part of the client contracting. The person writing report/working on the data may not be the person directly liaising with the client.

- How much data context is needed - naming all the people who helped make the data? How they were trained, etc. Etc. It could quickly get very overwhelming.

- How easy is it to download the data and get into the wrong hands; how easy to manipulate it and use it in ways that were not intended?

- Plagiarizing of data - not acknowledging source.