Anonymising Research Data

Clark, Andrew (2006) Anonymising Research Data. NCRM Working Paper. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods. (Unpublished)



This document outlines some thoughts and discussions we have been having about strategies of anonymisation of data to be collected through the ESRC / NCRM Real Life Methods Node Connected Lives project1. It is commonplace for social science research to adopt a policy of ‘blanket anonymisation’, whereby all names, places and other identifying features are disguised across a data set, including from interview transcripts, diaries and field notes. Here, I consider the practical and theoretical implications of such a strategy and suggest that anonymisation is not a process to be conducted – and assumed completed – at just one stage of the research process. Moreover, anonymisation strategies cannot be separated out from other methodological (such as issues around archiving or mixing methods) or indeed substantive issues (such as enabling deeper appreciation of the relationality of networks, or the ways in which space might be constructed). The implications of whatever anonymisation strategy researchers adopt on the future ability to appreciate the social and spatial processes behind networks, neighbourhoods and communities, need to be made clear throughout the research process. In summation, this document argues for a more reflexive, iterative approach to anonymisation and confidential that situates these, and other ethical concerns, in the context of the social process.

Item Type:Working Paper (NCRM Working Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:NCRM Publications
Subjects:6. Mixed Methods Data Handling and Data Analysis > 6.3 Mixed Methods Approaches (other)
8. Research Management and Impact > 8.2 Confidentiality and Anonymity
8. Research Management and Impact > 8.3 Research Ethics
8. Research Management and Impact > 8.9 Research Management and Impact (other)
ID Code:480
Deposited By: NCRM users
Deposited On:05 Dec 2008 18:27
Last Modified:12 Oct 2010 17:40

Repository Staff Only: item control page