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Helpful Tips

Consult with Data Stewards early on

  • Are you planning to use data from a registry in your study? Consult with Data Stewards as early as possible in the planning process. Securing REB approval doesn’t mean you get access to data immediately. It takes a lot of expertise and resources to pull data for your study. Most Data Stewards will want to discuss your study with you to make sure it is scientifically sound and feasible.

Be comprehensive and allow time for approvals

  • Make sure you have given yourself lots of time to acquire all the relevant signatures and approvals you need to conduct your study. 
  • Provide reviewers with all the information they need to evaluate your study. For studies that plan to share and link data it is important to include a data management plan  that details the entire lifecycle of these data. Failure to include such a plan with your ethics application makes it very difficult for the REB and other reviewers to evaluate your study and may result in a deferral. If you need help constructing a plan, please contact the Research Privacy Advisor for support.

Use approved systems and platforms

  • Security is a key concern when conducting a privacy review. It is important to make sure that you are using systems and platforms that have been approved by PHSA and have undergone appropriate security and privacy reviews. If you are using an unapproved system, you should contact the Research Privacy Advisor as soon as possible so that a security review and a privacy review can be arranged for your system or platform.

Consider using a range of security measures

  • Collect only the data needed for the research study.
  • De-identify data as soon as possible after collection and/or separate and secure identity data from coded data. If this is not possible, a higher level of data security must be observed to safeguard the original data.
  • Store and access research data only on computers connected to our secure networks: PHSA, BC Cancer Agency-CRC, BC Cancer Agency-GSC or BC Children's Hospital Research Institute.
  • Use secure data encryption if identifiable information will be stored on a networked computer, stored or transmitted via the web, or stored on a portable device such as a laptop or USB flash drive.
  • If there is a need to create databases or applications that use personal identifiable information (approved by a research ethics board), the appropriate privacy office should be consulted.
  • When disposing or transferring ownership of computers, CDs, USB keys, and any other form of electronic storage, make sure sensitive data is irretrievably deleted by trained IT professionals following industry standards.

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