About the researchers
Who will be able to see my data?
The only data that anyone will be able to see is de-identified – where all unique identifiers such as name, address and date of birth have been removed.
The data is accessed by researchers with specialised training and the trusted third parties which help to link the data together.
Researchers using the Network must be:
- conducting research that was approved by the Approvals Panel, which was made up of independent experts
- a trusted, ‘fit and proper’ person capable of carrying out the research
- from academia, government or an independent research organisation recognised by our Board
Researchers also had to take a compulsory training programme in administrative data management and security standards. They must also be working on an approved project. The approvals process for projects is separate from the training process for researchers.
What do you mean by a ‘fit and proper’ person?
Every researcher using the Network was specially trained. They had to take a compulsory training programme in administrative data management and security standards before they can gain access to data, and must sign declarations to confirm that they understand their personal responsibilities and obligations.
We also expected researchers to be from academia, the third sector, government or an independent research organisation recognised by our Board. Independent research organisations are defined as organisations that are eligible to receive Research Council UK funding. Their website has information about eligibility, and a list of organisations that are currently eligible.
There may be some researchers who would like to carry out a project who are at the beginning of their career. Because they do not have a proven track record, the Network would need to look at whether they are capable of carrying out the research under the direction of an appropriate supervisor or lead investigator.
How will researchers get access to data?
In the Network, there are many secure settings around the UK where researchers can access data securely. Each one strictly protects the privacy of the sensitive data used for research. Researchers will only have access to the data they have asked for once they are approved. Access will be in a secure environment. Only de-identified data needed for a specific project will be made available to researchers in these secure environments.
The staff at the secure environments and the researchers will never have access to directly identifying information.