Confidentiality and Informed Consent: Issues for Consideration in the Preservation of and Provision of Access to Qualitative Data Archives

  • Louise Corti ESDS Qualidata
  • Annette Day ESDS Qualidata
  • Gill Backhouse UK Data Archive
Keywords: qualitative data, archiving, qualitative research, secondary analysis, confidentiality, informed consent, data access, gate-keeping, Qualidata


This paper highlights the main issues concerned with preserving fieldwork "contracts", such as informed consent agreements, as they relate to the conduct of research and the archiving of qualitative data. We pay particular attention to the techniques and efficacy of anonymisation and, outline methods of gate-keeping for access to data. Our discussions are based on seven years experience of Qualidata, the ESRC Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre in dealing with a wide range of qualitative data, including interviews with public figures, and the raw material arising from some of the most classic empirical studies in the UK. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs000372


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Author Biographies

Louise Corti, ESDS Qualidata
Louise CORTI is currently the Deputy Director and Manager of Qualidata, the ESRC Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre, based at Essex. In January 2001 she will be taking up the post of Director of User Service of the UK Data Archive, where alongside the duties of that role, she will retain an overall responsibility for qualitative data archives. In the past she has taught sociology, social research methods and statistics, and spent six years working on the design, implementation and analysis of the British Household Panel Study at the University of Essex. She is interested in both qualitative and quantitative aspects of social research.
Annette Day, ESDS Qualidata
Annette DAY was appointed as Qualidata's first Researcher Support Officer in 1998, a post dedicated to providing advice and support to ESRC researchers on all aspects of preparing qualitative research data for archiving at the grant application stage, during the project and through to the deposit of data. She contributed much to the development of Qualidata's sets of guidelines on ethical issues, and on guidelines for interviewing children. She left Qualidata in January 1999 to become an oral history archivist at the Museum of London.
Gill Backhouse, UK Data Archive
Gill BACKHOUSE holds a professional qualification in social work and has trained in social research methods. She has experience of working in both social work and social research over a number of years. She has been working as Researcher Support Officer for Qualidata since March 1999.
Progress of Preserving and Questions Regarding Data Protection

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