Data Management

Safe Data Storage Practices

Once you have collected data from a participant, securing data in a proper manner is essential and may also be a condition of IRB approval. 

Some considerations for proper data storage include

  • Coding participant data by number so that participants cannot be identified
  • Ensuring that no names or other unique personal information is on documents containing data
  • Storing the master code list (key) in an area separate from data
  • Storing physical data (surveys/forms) in a locked filing cabinet
  • Storing electronic data on password protected computers/files


Your research team should also address how to ensure that only authorized individuals will have access to the stored data. Suggestions include limiting the number of keys to locked data storage cabinets or developing a sign-out process for keys.

Transferring Data Electronically

Today, technology plays an important role in how research is conducted. At some point in a research study, data may be collected, stored, and/or sent electronically.

Some considerations for keeping data safe while “in-transit” include:

  • Verifying that current anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software has been installed on your computer
  • Encrypting highly sensitive data so that it cannot be viewed by a third party if sent over the Internet
  • Use a strong password for access to your computer (read tips on strong passwords)


Follow this link for a short ethics in research and evaluation case study and discussion questions.

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