Are we ready to share qualitative research data? Knowledge and preparedness among qualitative researchers, IRB members, and data repository curators
Keywords:Qualitative data sharing, data curators, IRB members, research personnel, qualitative research, interviews, attitudes, research ethics
Data sharing maximizes the value of data, which is time and resource intensive to collect. Major funding bodies in the United States (US), like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), require data sharing and researchers frequently share de-identified quantitative data. In contrast, qualitative data are rarely shared in the US but the increasing trend towards data sharing and open science suggest this may be required in future. Qualitative methods are often used to explore sensitive health topics raising unique ethical challenges regarding protecting confidentiality while maintaining enough contextual detail for secondary analyses. Here, we report findings from semi-structured in-depth interviews with 30 data repository curators, 30 qualitative researchers, and 30 IRB staff members to explore their experience and knowledge of QDS. Our findings indicate that all stakeholder groups lack preparedness for QDS. Researchers are the least knowledgeable and are often unfamiliar with the concept of sharing qualitative data in a repository. Curators are highly supportive of QDS, but not all have experienced curating qualitative data sets and indicated they would like guidance and standards specific to QDS. IRB members lack familiarity with QDS although they support it as long as proper legal and regulatory procedures are followed. IRB members and data curators are not prepared to advise researchers on legal and regulatory matters, potentially leaving researchers who have the least knowledge with no guidance. Ethical and productive QDS will require overcoming barriers, creating standards, and changing long held practices among all stakeholder groups.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Jessica Mozersky, Heidi Walsh, Meredith Parsons, Tristan McIntosh, Kari Baldwin, James M DuBois
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