Information Handling and Storage

Across disciplines, responsible conduct of academic research requires appropriate management of study data of any kind during collection, storage, publication and future availability. Notre Dame’s view on research data management aligns with the Australian Code of for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2018 and relevant internal University policies.

Research data management

Notre Dame has developed a Policy and Procedure to guide researchers on data management in general. The Policy: Research Data Management can be found here, and Procedure: Research Data Management can be found here. The Policy applies to all research data related to approved research activities at or in collaboration with the University, irrespective of data type or format. The Procedure features a helpful summary (Section 12, page 9) covering the process from the development of a Data Management Plan (a Notre Dame template is currently under development) to long-term retention and/or disposal of data..

For more information see Research Data Management at Notre Dame under Ethics and Integrity.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Research participants in Australia have a right to privacy under the Privacy Act 1988, the federal legislation regulating the use of identifiable personal information to protect individuals.

Depending on the research methodology, study data as pieces of information can vary from existing information in a database or registry to what study participants say in interviews, write in surveys, or can be derived from their biospecimens.

In Australia, the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (Chapter 3.1) emphasises the issue of identifiable data and the need for careful consideration whether to collect, store and/or make them available in a re-identifiable or non-identifiable form.

Notre Dame requires any research project involving human participants and/or any human parts or tissue, to apply for ethics approval before the start of the research. Researchers are required to provide a comprehensive plan for research data collection, handling and storage to ensure confidentiality of personal information.

It is recognised that in some circumstances potential re-identification cannot be prevented. This may be acceptable if the public interest outweighs the protection of the individual (addressed in the NHMRC Guidelines approved under Section 95A of the Privacy Act 1988, p 29). In other cases, small sample sizes can compromise anonymity. The study participants should be informed about these risks before giving consent to become involved in the research project.

For more information consult Notre Dame’s guideline on Name-identified Data or contact the Research Office or the University Library for further advice.