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Is my Project Confidential or Anonymous?

Confidential and  Anonymous are different and sometimes, that difference can affect the type of review your project has to go through – so it is important to know the difference before you submit your protocol.

Confidential data are data that have or had identifiers, but researchers have established a process for protecting the privacy of participants so that the identifying information is not shared. Typically, if you know the identities of the participants (interviews, collecting names, and collection of signatures on informed consents) your project cannot be anonymous and will be confidential.

On the other hand, anonymous data never has any identifiers connected to it so it is impossible to ever trace information back to the participant who provided it. An example of a project that is completely anonymous would be one where the researcher is only using an online survey to collect data that does not collect any identifiable information – this includes IP address.

Note – a project cannot be both anonymous and confidential. There are several questions on the Kuali IRB Protocol that ask about confidentiality or anonymity. Make sure your responses make sense. For example, one question asks if participants are identifiable and another asks if your project Is “Confidential” or “Anonymous.” If you state participants are identifiable on the first question, then it cannot be anonymous on the second question.