Research participant privacy and access to personal information

Why do we collect personal information about our research participants?

Our researchers (including research students) conduct research involving human participants to advance knowledge, or test theories or hypotheses in their field.

We collect personal information for research in fields including:

  • behavioural or social sciences (such as education, psychology, public health and management)
  • health and biomedical research.

What information do we collect?

The type of information researchers collect depends on the topic and nature of their research. For example, for research in health and biomedical fields it may include biological or genetic information.

Researchers may collect data directly from participants (for example by observation, questionnaires or interviews) or obtain it from another organisation.

How we manage the information

Our researchers follow the QUT Code of Conduct for Research, which governs how research should be conducted, how research data should be managed and how findings should be published.

Depending on the research they’re conducting, researchers may manage the data differently. In some cases, data we collect about you will stay linked with information that could be used to identify you, such as your name. We call this type of information ‘identifying information’.

For some research, we replace the identifying information with a code, which allows identifying information to be kept separate from other research data. The code can be could be used to relink the two sets of information.

In some studies, any identifying information is completely and permanent removed from the research data, in which case the data is no longer considered personal information.

Before data is collected

If their research involves human participants or personal information, researchers must obtain ethical approval from QUT before they start. As part of this process they must specify the personal information they plan to collect, describe how it will be used in their project and outline how they will explain this to potential participants.

Researchers should obtain informed consent from research participants before they collect or use data, if possible.

After data is collected

Research data is held in the faculty, school or centre that conducted the research. Individual researchers may also hold copies of data.

Research data is held for at least five years after publication of findings. For clinical research, it’s recommended that data is retained for at least 15 years.

Raw research data may be accessed by:

  • members of the research team
  • members of the research funding body (if appropriate)
  • academic and administrative staff who require access to assist researchers
  • senior QUT staff in limited circumstances.

Who we disclose information to

We don’t usually provide raw research data that involves personal information to anyone outside QUT.

If research data is to be disclosed to a third party, the researcher should obtain consent from participants. This should ideally happen before they collect the data, but in some circumstances it may happen before they disclose it.