Sheila Henderson

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"Balancing teens' privacy with desire to share data"

Inventing Adulthoods, 1996-2006

About the research

Inventing Adulthoods is a qualitative longitudinal study of young people growing up in five areas of England and Northern Ireland at the turn of the 21st century.

Its rich biographical material, contributed by young people who were 11 - 17 years old at the start of the study, provides a unique window on most aspects of growing up during an important period of social change in the decade 1996 - 2006.

About the data

The data sources considered for possible archiving for a showcase dataset were:

  • 6 rounds of interview data, coded and stored in NVivo
  • questionnaire data, coded and stored in SPSS
  • a 'big picture' database providing an 'at a glance' overview of case data according to key topics and themes of the study
  • NVivo analyses for interview rounds 2 and 4
  • summary narrative analyses of locality based on narrative analyses of individuals

With such a rich and complex project the research team was concerned with contextualising the study historically and providing a taster for the cross-sectional aspects of the Inventing Adulthoods dataset.

Data was collected in waves of fieldwork and organised and coded cross-sectionally so that historical time – the chronological passage of events that frame the entire data set - provides the common thread that gives each successive wave a distinct and contemporary character.

Archiving challenges

The research team decided to archive this dataset so that other researchers could access it and help realise its potential for methodological and theoretical advancement.

They were mindful of balancing the archiving of their data with not compromising participants' privacy and trust.

One of the biggest challenges to archiving their data was the development of a system for anonymising transcripts that maintained richness and detail, as well as the flow of participants' words and stories.

There were also issues around managing data , selecting cases, gaining consent for archiving which needed to be taken into account. They identified 13 steps to archiving their data.

(Retrospective) longitudinal case archiving: The 13 steps

  1. Case selection
  2. Assess need for anonymisation
  3. Develop enhancing and anonymistion guidelines
  4. Establish initial consent
  5. Collate and digitise data
  6. Pursue written consent
  7. Consult respondent during anonymisation process
  8. Enhance all transcripts for a case
  9. Reflect on the meaning and significance of the story and facts told both for the young person and those around them
  10. Anonymise transcripts, tracking changes in standard tables, recording notes on the process, and consulting with team as anonymisation issues arise
  11. Revisit anonymisation of earlier transcripts as learning accumulates and young people give feedback
  12. Cross-check all enhanced and anonymised cases and standardise
  13. Deposit enhanced and anonymised data with Qualidata

Reuse publications and outputs

You can read more about the team's concerns around providing context, confidentiality and anonymity and the technical potential for sharing data in this documentation.

Read the article.

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