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Research

R&D Guide / Planning

Classification of data

To choose the right Electronic tools for storing research data place the data in relation to the degree of sensitivity and degree of personal identification

Below, you will find a table showing the nine security levels. The security level is determined on the basis of the degree of sensitivity and the degree of personal identification. After finding the correct level of security, the security level is linked to storage sites and safety mesures at HiOA. Both degree of sensitivity and degree of person identification are crucial for choosing storage solution.

Degree of personal identification
Degree of sensitivity
 
Low
Medium
High
 
Low
1st case 4th case 7th case
 
Medium
2nd. case 5th case 8th case
 
High
3rd case 6th case 9th case

How to assess the degree of sensitivity?

Under the Personal Data Act, personal data relating to the following are considered sensitive:

  • Health-related matters
  • Criminal offences
  • Racial/ethnic origin
  • Union membership
  • Sexual matters

The above-mentioned personal data can have different degrees of sensitivity. A combination of two types of personal data is assumed to increase the degree of sensitivity. Within a category, such as health-related matters, some data may have a high degree of sensitivity, e.g. sexually transmitted diseases, and some may have a low degree of sensitivity, e.g. physical activity.

Other personal data than those listed in the Personal Data Act can also be deemed sensitive, e.g. data relating to minors.

How to assess the degree of personal identification?

Personally identifiable information used in different research projects can be broken down into the following main categories:

  • Geographical : country, county, municipality, institution
  • Personal characteristics: body, personality traits, voice
  • Social demographics: age, gender, income, education, social status, salary
  • Next of kin/family: number of children, family structure

Certain types of information can be both sensitive and personally identifiable, e.g. diagnoses.

The more restricted the sample (number of research participants), the more personally identifiable information that is included and the geographical area is limited, the greater the degree of personal identification, see 

Sample size can therefore be a significant factor in determining whether personal data is deemed adequately de-identified or anonymised (see the list of definitions). If the sample is small, more personally identifiable information must be removed from the personal data in the de-identification/anonymisation process than would be necessary for a bigger sample.

Placing research projects in the table

  •  vertical – low, medium or high degree of sensitivity
  •  horizontal – low, medium or high degree of personal identification

Case 1-4-7

Low degree of sensitivity – increasing degree of personal identification

Questions about physical activity:

  • Do you work out regularly?
  • Have you walked for at least ten minutes every day in the past week?
  • What kind of physical activity have you done in the past week?
  • To what extent do different types of activity contribute to increasing mastery in other areas?

Case 1

The research project is within case 1, i.e. it has the lowest degree of sensitivity and personal identification, if

  • Sample from the whole country = 5,000
  • County
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Highest level of education

Case 4

The research project is within case 4 if

  • One county, sample = 200
  • Place of residence, in terms of number of inhabitants
  • Gender, age
  • Income
  • Number of children
  • Level of education
  • Type of education

Case 7

The research project is within case 7 if

  • One county, sample = 100–200
  • School children: Girls 12–14
  • Weight and height, sample between normal-weight and severely obese
  • Size of school
  • Parents' income, education and occupational status
  • Number of siblings
  • Live with one of/both parents
  • Friends and friends' recreational activities

The risk of personal identification is further increased by

  • In-depth interview (sound recording) with 20 (the voice may be recognisable)

A high degree of personal identification entails strict storage solution requirements.

Case 2-5-8

Medium degree of sensitivity and increasing degree of personal identification

Survey on physical activity among immigrant children

Case 2

A research project is within case 2 if

  • Sample from the whole country = 5,000
  • County
  • Age
  • Gender

Case 5

A research project is within case 5 if

  • One county, sample = 200
  • Place of residence, in terms of number of inhabitants
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Nationality

Case 8

A research project is within case 8 if

  • One county, sample = 100–200
  • School children aged between 12 and 14
  • Gender
  • Weight and height
  • Parents' income, education and occupational status
  • Nationality
  • Siblings and friends' recreational activities
  • Number of siblings
  • Live with one of/both parents

The risk of personal identification is further increased by

  • In-depth interview (sound recording) with 20 (the voice may be recognisable)

A high degree of personal identification entails strict storage solution requirements.

Case 3-6-9

High degree of sensitivity – increasing degree of personal identification

Connection between criminal offences and difficulty entering the labour market

Questions:

  • How long were you in prison for?
  • Did you work before you went to prison?
  • How long did it take to find work after you left prison?
  • At what stage of the job application process did it emerge that you had been in prison?

Case 3

The research project is within case 3 if

  • Sample from the whole country = 5,000
  • Gender
  • Age

Case 6

The research project is within case 6 if

  • Sample from Western Norway = 500
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Work status before prison sentence
  • Parents' income

Case 9

The research project is within case 9 if

  • Sample from Western Norway = 100–200
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Work status before prison sentence
  • Education
  • Parents' income
  • Family structure

The risk of personal identification is further increased by

  • In-depth interview (sound recording) with 20 (the voice may be recognisable)

A high degree of personal identification entails strict storage solution requirements.

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