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Research Data Management

Learn how to better manage your research team's data throughout all phases of the research lifecycle.

Ethical Issues: Sensitive Data

Personal Health Information and HIPAA:

  • For example, using Excel to collect sensitive data or using the Cloud services to store your sensitive data is a bad idea and is not recommended (see WSU's matrix for "acceptable" Cloud usage); though, using Excel to analyze de-identified data is fine.  Always evaluate the anonymity of your dataset.

Data Sharing Sensitive Data

In order to ethically share confidential data, one must do the following:

  • Obtain informed consent by research participants for data sharing (e.g. in an open repository or archive)
  • Try to anonymize the data the best that you can through removing HIPAA identifiers from your dataset
  • Add restrictions to your data usage

Software for Sensitive Data

REDCap and Qualtrics:

There are a couple of software options that are designed to collect sensitive data in a reliable and secure way.  The two software packages that are safe to store and collect sensitive data are REDCap and Qualtrics:

  • WSU is an institutional REDCap partner. 
    • New WSU users should send an email to a REDCap Administrator requesting to be added as a user.  The email should be sent to with your name and position at WSU. 
    • Non-WSU research staff should contact the REDCap project’s PI for the project they will be working on and have the PI request access for them. 
    • WSU students should request access by sending an email to, and have their WSU sponsor send an email also.
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