Subject to Notification?
If you will be collecting your data using online surveys, your project will be subject to notification if:
- the questionnaire contains information that can identify individuals directly or indirectly and/or
- the questionnaire at any point in the process will be connected to identifying information about the respondent (e.g. IP address, email address, cookies, browser information, etc.)
In most online surveys email and/or IP addresses of the respondents are registered at some point. In these cases the project will be subject to notification even though only the supplier (data processor) has access to identifiable information, if this is connected to the survey results (e.g. IP logs).
If your project is subject to notification, and you want to use a supplier of online surveys that is not affiliated with your institution (i.e. an external data processor), the institution you are affiliated with and the supplier of the survey must make a data processor agreement, which regulates and ensures the processing of personal data.
Relevant information to the Sample
If you use a data processor when collecting data, and do not gain access to other identifying information about the sample than background information, the sample may be informed in for instance the following way:
" All information will be treated confidentially. The technical implementation of the survey is conducted by [NAME OF DATA PROCESSOR]. The researcher will be given data from [NAME OF DATA PROCESSOR] which is not linked to email or IP addresses. All information will be made anonymous when the project is completed, by [DATE]."
It is also possible to conduct online surveys anonymously, and anonymous surveys will not be subject to notification. In order for an online survey to be considered anonymous, one must make sure that the questionnaire does not contain questions revealing identifiable information. Also, the IT solution must be completely anonymous. This entails:
- That the answers can in no way be linked to identifying information about the respondent (such as email/IP addresses, browser information or cookies)
- Also, there may not be registered identifying information in any other way (e.g. unique links sent via email or a login with user id and password on a website)
When making use of anonymous solutions, it is not possible to send reminders to those who have not responded, and one cannot know whether a person has answered the questionnaire several times.
Children and Consent
When online surveys are used in schools and the like, it may be difficult to obtain consent from parents. However, the law requires that consent is obtained when processing personal data. Whether a child can give their own consent to such research depends on the project type and scope. See also FAQ: When may children give their consent to participate? and read about research schools and kindergartens.