iridium – postgrad evaluation of MANTRA RDM training – Data protection, rights and access unit

From Blanca.

Today I had the opportunity to explore the “Data protection, rights and access” unit of MANTRA. This is a quite new unit which offers plenty of relevant and essential concepts.

Firstly, it discusses the concept of ethics and how ethical requirements need to be taken into consideration with planning a RDM. Ethics, is a serious issue, specially when it involves people. Most of the examples and RDM strategies discussed over the unit concern data about people.

Essential concepts this unit focusses on are privacy, consent and confidentiality. The first step towards an ethical research would be to obtain consent from your research subjects (This way people are given the right to take decisions on the use of their personal data). Next, the researcher needs to make sure he/she will guarantee the protection of subject’s privacy, to do so, the researcher will need to outline confidentiality strategies (this is an agreement between the researcher and the research subjects on how his/her identifiable private information will be handled, managed and disseminated).

Besides ethics, the unit makes relevance on how important are legal considerations for RDM. The 1998 Data Protection Acts regulates personal data handling. Failure to comply with these regulations can incur in extremely severe consequences for organisations and individuals, the unit provides a series of crude examples about it. Even huge institutions such as the NHS are not exempt!

Next, the unit provides with some very useful anonymisation techniques (masking data so that no person identifiers are present), a document with some examples is provided.

Finally, the unit discusses what a are “Intellectual Property Rights” and “Freedom of Information.”

Intellectual property (IP) is all about the creation of the mind. Laws try to make sure owners of these creations are granted with certain exclusive rights when it comes to commercialisation of their creation. There are 2 categories: Industrial property (includes patents, trademarks…) and Copyrights (for literary and artistic works). On the other hand, Freedom of Information (FoI) is about providing the public the right to access information from public bodies.

In general, I found this unit to be quite vast in content. The approach it takes for the explanation of the concepts is really good and concise. However, it didn’t have as many interactive parts as previous units. The unit also provides some other recommended resources.”

MANTRA Data protection, rights and access unit: http://datalib.edina.ac.uk/mantra/dataprotection.html

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