Legal and ethical issues

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"Research data can be shared legally and ethically"

Much research data - even sensitive data - can be shared ethically and legally if researchers employ strategies of informed consent, anonymisation and controlling access to data.

Legal issues

Researchers obtaining data from people are expected to maintain high ethical standards and comply with relevant legislation. Ethical guidance is provided by professional bodies, host institutions and funding organisations.

Consent for data sharing

Informed consent is an ethical requirement for most research. It must be considered and implemented throughout the research lifecycle, from planning to publication, and should include making provisions for sharing and future use of data.


Before data obtained from research with people can be shared with other researchers - either archived or published - data may need to be anonymised so that individuals, organisations or businesses cannot be identified.

Access control

Sensitive and confidential data may be safeguarded effectively by regulating or controlling access to data or use of them. As well as securely storing such data, such safeguards enable data to be shared with others for research and educational purposes.


Ethical guidelines for research are issued by professional bodies, host institutions and funding organisations. We have collated a number of useful resources on research ethics, consent and anonymisation.

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