Levels of Access
The level of access offered to secondary users, and the conditions attached to that access will vary, both between individual data collections and across the CESSDA archives. Although a discussion of the full range of dissemination conditions would not be appropriate here, a short list of these would include:
- Public-use files
Data collections containing data which has been anonymised to ensure the confidentiality of all the data are often called public-use files. Such data collections include content that has been carefully screened to reduce the risk of confidentiality breaches, either directly or through deductive analyses. Some original data items will, inevitably, be removed or adjusted through data-masking procedures.
- Restricted-use data collections
To overcome some of the limitations on the research uses of public user files, the original data collections are sometimes made available on a restricted basis only to approve users who have agreed in writing to abide by the rigorous rules governing their use. Access to the restricted-use files is highly controlled and usually only offered under a set of controlled conditions to approved researchers.
- Data enclaves and secure data services
To handle the most confidential data, archives can sometimes grant access through a secure data enclave environment. A data enclave is a secure data analysis laboratory that allows researchers access to the original data in a controlled setting. This solution is only ever used in cases where such things as medical records, geographical identifiers and so on are included. Although such solutions are often found outside of the normal archive, they are sometimes maintained in conjunction with the archive.
When dealing with qualitative data, such confidentiality concerns are particularly urgent. There are methods in use to create public use files but data collectors should contact the relevant archive to discuss what arrangements can be made.