We have visited a lot of health researchers over the last month. Clinicians and researchers are spread across the University’s sites, so we’ve focused on providing our Open Research workshops for Health Sciences researchers where they work, starting in Canynge Hall and Dorothy Hodgkin Building. We have future plans to run the workshop at hospital sites such as Southmead, to support clinical researchers in situ.
The workshops cover Open Access publications and funder requirements, depositing papers and theses in Pure, Research Data Management, the data.bris repository, the Research Data Storage Facility and researcher metrics, so it’s a broad overview of how researchers can take steps be more open across the board. Plenty of questions came up, and it was really thought-provoking to hear researchers talk about their different career paths and their motivations to do research.
In addition to the workshops, we were invited to talk at the Centre for Academic Primary Care’s (CAPC) monthly meeting about our process for sharing sensitive data with external researchers. This question arises not only because researchers at other institutions hear about research at Bristol, but also because of an increased requirement from funders and publishers to provide a means of access to data from publicly funded research. We often receive queries from researchers working with sensitive data and whilst the themes are mostly the same, the circumstances of each case often requires careful consideration, so it was a great opportunity to learn about the issues CAPC researchers face and discuss how we can support them.
At CAPC we defined sensitive data in the context of research involving human participants. We discussed the circumstances where anonymisation is either not possible, or where anonymising would strip value from the dataset. Researchers were particularly interested in the process we have for sharing sensitive data through the research data repository, data.bris, and how we have access levels specifically designed for this purpose. We talked about how decisions to share are made via a Data Access Committee, how we check researchers are bona fide, and what is covered by data access agreements. We were also able to emphasise the importance of getting consent sheets worded in a way that makes it simple for researchers to share sensitive data. Off of the back of this talk, we’ve assisted three researchers with their consent form wording and ethics applications and prevented snags further down the line at the publication stage, so it was a worthwhile visit.
It also gave us the opportunity to give researchers a taster of the kinds of issues we’ll be covering at our upcoming workshops ‘Managing ethically sensitive research data: from planning to sharing,’ and interest was piqued so spaces filled very quickly! However, there are waitlists running and we will be repeating the workshop in the Autumn term and beyond.