How to maintain participant confidentiality 🔗

Participant confidentiality must be upheld at all times. Here are some tips that should enable you to do that:

  • As far as possible, avoid collecting any personally-identifiable information, such as participants' date of birth, address, and so on.
  • In cases where identifiable information has to be collected (e.g., if you have to collect email addresses), then if possible, just use it for its intended purpose and then immediately write over it so that it is not stored in the datafile CSV.
  • If you have to collect personally identifiable information for a research-specific reason, only use it for the purpose to which the participant consented. Do not use it for any other purpose and do not share the information with anyone.
  • If you are publishing datasets, ensure that you first remove any personally identifiable information from the entire dataset.

Example of how to collect and use the participant's email without storing it: use the *throwaway keyword and write over their address after emailing 🔗

In this example, let's say that the participant has qualified for an emailed follow-up survey and has consented to provide their email address. Then you might ask them to enter it as follows.

*question: Please enter your email address.
	*save: emailAddress
	*throwaway

*email
	*subject: Thank you for choosing to participate in our follow-up study!
	*to: {emailAddress}
	*body
		{bodyOfEmail}

>> emailAddress = ""

Thank you! We have emailed you a link for the follow-up study.

Prior to checking your emails, please follow this link to finish this session and to get paid for the survey you just completed: {reimbursementLink}.

Note that in this example, the researcher has included the *throwaway keyword so that the answer to that question is not automatically stored; it is only stored in the variable emailAddress . The researcher later uses emailAddress to send the email, then immediately overwrites the variable after the email is sent so that it does not get saved in the CSV datafile.


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