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Doing data-driven research? Here’s what you need to know.

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Learn how data experts think about risk and what reasonable steps you can take to put privacy protections in place.

​Anonymized data or de-identified data?  Direct identifier or indirect identifier?  And what do terms like this mean when it comes to reducing privacy risks in research?

A good way to think about data use, storage and sharing is along a continuum of risk, like in the figure below.  Although you can never truly eliminate all possible risks, researchers and research staff must take reasonable steps given the circumstances to reduce the risk of exposing personal information. This is subjective, but necessarily so as there may be a higher reasonable standard for some situations as opposed to others.

Continuum of risk diagram_for web.jpg

The Research Privacy Tip Sheet: Common Terms and Tips to Reduce the Risk of Exposing Identifiable Personal Information provides insights into how data experts think about risk and what’s expected given different circumstances.  This Tip Sheet references guidance from key Canadian documents that must be followed when conducting research within PHSA, supplemented with advice from a range of data experts from both within and outside of PHSA.

Researchers and research staff conducting research involving human participants or data about human participants are invited to check out the Tip Sheet.  This guidance document outlines common data and privacy terms, and provides practical advice on how the research community can take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of exposing private information.

You can find this Tip Sheet on our Sharing Data page.  Other privacy resources are available on our Research Privacy at PHSA pages.
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