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Mario Lurig on Safeguarding Your Data Sharing

My name is Mario Lurig, and I am the Technical Training Manager at SurveyGizmo, leading documentation, webinars, and other methods for educating evaluators on using our online survey tool.

Regardless of how you collect evaluation data, the data collected requires protection and careful handling to ensure that the results from your respondents are kept in strict confidence. Below I’ve compiled some hot tips for properly sharing this data with 3rd parties, as well as safely managing the data throughout the analysis period. Special thanks go to Marni Zapin, SurveyGizmo’s Product Marketing Manager, for assisting in compiling these tips.

Hot Tip: Store your data securely

If collecting paper surveys, once the data has been entered into a spreadsheet or database, the original surveys should be shredded and destroyed. However, protecting your digital files is just as critical. If storing them locally on your office computer, ensure the files are either encrypted or protected by a system password. Consider using a shared drive that includes both of the previously mentioned security measures. If the data is stored in an online tool, make sure the privacy policy specifies that the data will not be shared or used by the provider.

Hot Tip: Share with your clients only relevant data in compiled reports

When using online tools for collected data, many come with built-in methods for compiling that data in formatted reports that can be shared with your clients. To ensure the data is safe, distribute the report to your clients with a shared web link that is password protected (see a theme?), can be disabled at anytime, does not require granting access to your account, or all three! Secondly, make sure you use segments or filters to only share the data that is relevant to the client.

Hot Tip: Remove sensitive fields

Personal and demographic information can be considered sensitive data, which will be no surprise to evaluators. However, sometimes after compiling data segments based on the sensitive data, the results are compiled without removing these sensitive fields. In most cases, the sensitive data does not need to be reported directly, but only used to identify a group. Remove these fields from your results!

Hot Tip: Reassure your respondents about the data’s safety

A common incentive is to share your results with the respondents at the conclusion of the study. When you send a follow-up email, make sure to include a statement that reassures your respondents about the safety of their data and the results. This simple act will reassure everyone from your sources to your clients, while ensuring a long relationship with both.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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