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Central Questions of Anonymization: A Case Study of Secondary Use of Qualitative Data Open Access

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Author or creator
Thomson, D.
Bzdel, L.
Golden-Biddle, K.
Reay, T.
Estabrooks, C.A.
Additional contributors
Subject/Keyword
Ethical practice
Collaborative research
Privacy
Confidentiality
Type of item
Journal Article (Published)
Language
English
Place
Time
Description
Anonymization—the removal of identifying information from data—is one way of preparing data for secondary use. This process has not received much attention from scholars, but close examination shows that it is full of methodological, ethical and theoretical tensions. Qualitative research focuses on how people live and act in very particular, situated contexts. Removing identifying information also, inevitably, removes contextual information that has potential value to the researcher. We propose to present a case study of working with anonymized data on the research project, Knowledge Utilization and Policy Implementation, a five-year program funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. This project involves the secondary use of qualitative data sets from multiple separate research projects across Canada. Based on this case study, we provide useful recommendations that address some of the central questions of anonymization and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the anonymization process.
Date created
2005
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3ZC7RX3N
License information
Rights
© 2005 Forum: Qualitative Social Research. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
Citation for previous publication
Thomson, D., Bzdel, L., Golden-Biddle, K., Reay, T., Estabrooks, C. A. (2005). Central Questions of Anonymization: A Case Study of Secondary Use of Qualitative Data. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(1), Article 29, 1-33.
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