The economic and societal benefits of making research data available for reuse and verification are now widely understood and accepted. However, there are some research studies, particularly those involving human participants, which face particular challenges in making their data openly available due to the sensitivities of the data. Despite its potential value to society this material is invariably kept locked away due to concerns over its inappropriate disclosure. The University of Bristol’s Research Data Service has developed the institutional infrastructure, including policies and procedures, required to safely grant access to sensitive research data in a way that is transparent, secure, sustainable and crucially, replicable by other institutions. This paper looks at the background and challenges faced by the institution in dealing with sensitive data, outlines the approach taken and some of the outstanding issues to be tackled.
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