1. Think from the participant's perspective.
- What information would you be willing to share, and under what circumstances?
- What would make you feel comfortable answering the questions that the researcher is asking?
- How would you feel if you work at Company X, and you learn that the information being gathered will benefit your competitor, Company Y?
2. Introduce yourself and the research.
- Identify yourself honestly, and explain your objectives for conducting the research, including:
- how the information collected will be used.
- who will benefit from the information.
- whether or not participants and their responses will remain anonymous. If not, why?
- Do not misrepresent yourself as a customer or client, especially if seeking information from a competitor company.
3. Consider confidentiality and data security.
- Protect participants’ responses and personal information (see: Working with Sensitive Data).
- Only collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) if it is absolutely necessary.
- PII refers to “information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, social security number, biometric records, etc. alone, or when combined with other personal or identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc." (Source)
4. Be careful with personal health questions!
- Avoid asking directly about a person's physical or mental health status.
- Avoid asking directly about a person's health condition(s), medication(s), etc.
- Avoid combining health questions and questions that ask for personally identifiable information.
- See also: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
- HIPAA protects the confidentiality and security of personally-identifiable information that arises in the course of providing health care.
5. You might need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.
- The IRB is responsible for reviewing human subject research and ensuring compliance with federal regulations, state laws, and UC/UCI policies, to protect the safety and welfare of human subjects.
- If you are doing primary research for a class assignment or an entrepreneurial project, you probably don't need IRB approval. If you plan to publish your research (i.e., develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge), talk with your professor(s)/advisors.