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JPAM Featured Article: "Supplying Disadvantaged Schools with Effective Teachers: Experimental Evidence on Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America"

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Session Recap: How to Protect Sensitive Data: Tools for Researchers and Programs

November 7, 2014 10:00 AM

By Liu Yi, Harvard University

With the fast development of information technology, we have become used to having access to different kinds of data. However, it becomes more and more important for people who are dealing with data in their daily life to pay more attention to data protection.

This session, led by Teresa Doksum and Sean Owen from Abt Associates, Inc., targeted how to protect sensitive data tools for researchers. The session was a workshop conducted in four parts.

Since it becomes easier to lose data (e.g. stolen/ lost laptop, audio recorder, external hard drive, thumb drive, etc.), researchers should use different kinds of technologies to protect their data. This is especially important because oftentimes, researchers collect personal information with the consent of interviewees. As such, it is essential for researchers and data collectors to make a data security plan.

Prior to this procedure, researchers should be familiar with all the common regulations related to this topic, keeping key points in mind when dealing with different parts of a project. The main components of this plan should include descriptions of data, lists of team members, descriptions of requirements per regulations, data use agreements, contracts, and data flow throughout the lifecycle. Meanwhile this plan should be updated and refined as needed.

Apart from the regulations on data protections, Doksum and Owens also gave several useful tips regarding tools for transfer and storage. They also compared different tools for both qualitative and quantitative research that gave participants a vivid map of how to select the best tool for a specific research.

Throughout the workshop, the audience posed several questions ranging from how to fully delete data to regulations instructions when facing different stakeholders in a research project.

Download the Data Plan Security Guide [PDF] and the workshop slidshow [PDF].


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