No matter whether data is research, financial or administrative data, there are reasonable levels of control that can and should be placed regarding access. Unfortunately, the risk of infringing on privacy is growing by the day given the increased frequency and detail of data collection. This has led to the need for laws to secure personal data privacy. This interesting topic came to us from The Conversation in their article, “How Kenya’s new personal data protection law could affect researchers.”

Researchers and research data are not exempt. Advances in big data analytics for research have driven the collection of significant amounts of data. Researchers have traditionally self-regulated, but personal data protection laws have begun to increase restrictions.

Research data includes preliminary and raw data that are the building blocks of scholarly publications. The advance of knowledge is based on the open flow of information. Only when a researcher shares data and results with other researchers can the accuracy of the data, analyses and conclusions be verified. Different researchers apply their own perspectives to the same body of information, which reduces the bias inherent in individual perspectives. Unrestricted access to the data used to derive conclusions also builds public confidence in the processes and outcomes of research.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.