BootcampSD: Repositories for sensitive data

Repositories for sensitive data
Section 4 of 10


There are institutional-specific, discipline-specific and general data repositories. Data repositories usually have an online portal where users can search for and discover data, though not necessarily gain direct access. A good example of a discipline-specific repository which has restricted access levels is the UK Data Archive.

The University of Bristol’s Research Data Repository allows researchers to publish datasets under several different access arrangements:

Open: any potential sensitivities have been deemed negligible enough that the data can be made openly available to others e.g. consent has been given by participants to make anonymised data openly available and risk of re-identification is considered extremely low

Restricted: some sensitivities still remain even after modification e.g. explicit consent is not in place to openly share data but risk of re-identification is still considered to be low. Data is made available to other researchers only, after they have signed a data sharing agreement

Controlled: a significant degree of sensitivity remains e.g. risk assessment of re-identification is medium to high or (for historical studies) consent for sharing was not sought from participants; data whose inappropriate disclosure could cause commercial harm to a project partner. Requests are referred to an appropriate data access committee before data can be shared under a data sharing agreement

Closed: data is not available for sharing (except to regulators) because of ethical, IPR or other constraints. Requests for access to ‘Closed’ data are handled by the Information Rights Officer as FOI requests.