It is a requirement that researchers store and manage all research data/information arising from their research according to an approved plan for data/information management for the project and that the information is retained for the minimum period of time specified by the Western Australian University Sector Disposal Authority (WAUSDA)
Storage, security and disposal of research data
Researchers must ensure that proper arrangements have been made for the security and storage of confidential data collected in the course of research projects involving human participants.
When considering applications for ethics approval, ethics reviewers will request details of:
- The procedures proposed to ensure confidentiality of participants and the information they may provide.
- The names of persons responsible for security of data.
- The names of those who may be granted access to the data.
- The minimum period for which data are to be held in accordance with the Western Australian University Sector Disposal Authority.
- The format in which data will be stored.
- The methods that will be used to store data.
Data includes audio tapes, video tapes, digital records, photographs and other records.
Recorded information (visual or audio) may often be deleted after they have been transcribed so that only the transcribed information is stored. However destruction of other research data and associated records must first be authorised by the University Archivist before destruction is carried out.
A researcher must detail, in their ethics application, a clear and comprehensive plan for data management, storage, retention and disposal.
For further guidance on the services available for the storage of research data, please refer to the Research Data Management Toolkit maintained by Information Services. The Toolkit includes contact details for Information Services staff who can provide expertise and advice.
For further information regarding the legal minimum retention periods for your research data and please refer to the following quick guide. To obtain confirmation on the retention and disposal requirements for your research data please contact Information Governance Services.
Recordings and transcriptions
There are situations where a researcher may wish to retain recordings following transcription and analysis beyond the legal minimum retention period.
Retention and future use
Retention and use of recordings is ethically acceptable if the participants have consented to this use. The researcher should also consider an invitation to participants to review and verify the accuracy of any transcriptions derived from recorded information.
When seeking ethical clearance for a protocol that will involve retention and subsequent use of recordings, the ethics application should include the following information:
- How long the recordings will be retained over and above the minimum retention requirements of the WAUSDA
- Who will have access to recordings.
- The wider use(s) for which the recordings will/may be used.
- The details of participant consent for the wider use of the recording.
- An indication of whether a participant verification process is appropriate, or has been employed.
- An indication of whether any commercial or legal considerations apply to the proposed wider or subsequent use of recorded information.
Significant cultural sensitivities may apply to the use of audio-visual recordings in research. Some cultures have strong taboos against the making of such recordings. Other cultures have taboos against the retention of photographs or recordings after a person has deceased.
When making an application for ethical clearance for a protocol involving audio-visual recordings, a researcher should identify whether cultural considerations are likely to apply, and indicate how the design of the research will address cultural issues.
To ensure that participants and researchers are clear about the manner in which recorded information can be used for research purposes, the Participant Consent Form (PCF) should include specific provisions about the recordings, for example, the PCF may include wording that resembles the following:
- I understand that my interview will be audio-taped.
- I understand that only the research team will have access to this tape.
- I understand that the audiotape will be erased following transcription.
- I consent to an extract from my recording being used in conference presentations or for instructional purposes.
- I understand that I will be shown the extracts from my recording for verification purposes.
Depending on the nature of your research, you may choose to include these and/or other specific provisions, as required.
In designing a research project to ethically address issues pertaining to recorded information, the researcher should consider the need to clearly explain the following questions:
- What recordings will be made and what methods will be used?
- To what use will the recordings be put?
- How long will the recordings need to be retained in accordance with the WAUSDA?
- What is the approved method of erasing/destroying/deleting the recordings?
- Where will the recordings be stored?
- Who will have access to recordings?
- Will the recordings be used for other, non-research purposes, for example, in publications?
- Are there any commercial or legal considerations applying to the proposed use of recordings?
- Are there special cultural considerations relevant to the audio or visual recordings?
- Will participants be invited to review and agree to the storage of their recorded information?