Data security

The approved projects will require evidence of ethical approval before the data is released. Ethical approval from the data user’s local ethical committee is the responsibility of the data user. It is imperative that the potential data user who has had their application approved by the principal investigators keep the principal investigators informed at every stage of the ethical submission process.

While the data will be collected anonymously, it is imperative that the data users accept responsibility of ensuring that no participant’s identity is disclosed under any circumstances. The data users must also preserve the confidentiality of the data in outputs and publications (e.g., tables with small numbers might lead to the identification of individuals).It is forbidden to match or attempt to match individual records to any other data.

The data will be held securely and in accordance with the ethics approval provided by the Ethics Comission of the Swiss Distance University Institute. Data users must ensure that secure data access, such as passwords, firewalls, etc., must be in place in order that the data are kept secure. Data users should access the provided dataset through an email, with data in an excel file which will be password protected, and avoid keeping datasets on their own PC/laptop, unless the device is encrypted (minimum AES-256). This network drive should be accessible through password control.

The data will be transferred encrypted and password protected and the passwords must not be shared with anyone not named on the Data Request Form.

The data should be retained only for as long as it is needed. On completion of the project, the data must no longer be used and must be destroyed securely. This should be stated clearly on the ethics approval provided by the data user’s host institution (or equivalent).