Make your data count

Handling Sensitive Data

Research often requires the collecting, storing, and using of sensitive research data, such as confidential participant data from a clinical trial, individual survey data, or commercially sensitive data. Often researchers will have to specify how they will manage their project’s sensitive or confidential data in their funding proposal. If you are a researcher or member of support staff who like practical advice on

  • how to abide by University policy
  • how to meet funder conditions
  • how to maintain contractually mandated confidentiality
  • how to anonymise your data
  • how to encrypt your data
  • how to preserve your data safely after project completion

you can request a meeting with our team by emailing

Please get in touch to book a consultation or start an online dialogue. We are also in the process of developing FAQs and training materials, and can come to your department or research group to deliver talks. Where appropriate we can also direct you to external sources of help such as the UK Data Archive or the Digital Curation Centre.

Oxford has a number of centrally provided sources of advice on these issues, including Research Ethics Committees such as CUREC, the Information Security Team, Research Services, the Bodleian Data Library, ORA-DATA, and the Research Support team within IT Services, and our advice is provided by collaboration between these teams.

On 19-10-2016 we ran an event on Sensitive Data at IT Services Banbury Road:

In this occasional series of events, we will discuss an aspect of Oxford’s policies that touch on information technology. This time we will investigate the implications of collecting, storing, and using sensitive research data. This might include confidential participant data from a clinical trial, individual survey data, or commercially sensitive data. We will look at the University policies on sensitive data, investigate some of the issues researchers face with regard to such data, and open the floor to discussion. We hope to bring together researchers working with sensitive data, and those supporting them, to gain a better understanding of the issues across the University and to hear their views, whether positive or negative.

Presentations from the day are available here:

Howard Noble – Introduction

Rowan Wilson – Sensitive Data

Claudia Kozeny-Pelling – Research Ethics and personal/sensitive data at Oxford

Duncan Tooke – Securing Research Data (note in this pdf, notes are in an annotation layer)

John Southall – Frameworks for Sensitive Data in the Research Lifecycle