Non-disclosure agreements, also known as Confidentiality agreements or simply NDAs, are made to guarantee that information, which one party discloses to another party, is not disclosed to a third party and only used for a specific purpose outlined in the agreement. In your research project, non-disclosure agreements are an extension of your informed consent process. If you’re going to share the data you’ve collected, as part of your dissertation research, with other members of your team; research assistants, transcribers, coders et. al., you need to enter into a confidentiality agreement with them to guaranteed your research subjects confidentiality. This is required by most IRBs (Institution Review Boards).
Signing a non-disclosure agreement with your transcriber allows you to share your interview and focus group recordings. It is, important, however to ensure that the transcriber has taken steps to maintain data security before signing a contract. What are some of the questions you should ask your transcriber with regards to maintaining confidentiality of shared data?
- Data Transfer. You probably have the recorded interviews and focus group discussions in a digital format. Sharing them over an unsecured network involves risks of “information slippage.” Emails are not a secure way to share sensitive data. Remember the old adage; emails are akin to a postcard. You need to ensure that your research data is encrypted before transmission. A data sharing site, for instance Dropbox.com or Box.com, with encryption and two step verification system is a good option for academic data transfer.
- Data access. Who has access to the data and how is access limited? Insist on password protected computer and limited access accounts.
- Data storage time. After the completion of the transcription, how long is the transcriber going to keep shared data before deletion? This is something you need to discuss with your transcriber. In most instances, you want them to keep a copy of the recording and transcript until you’ve reviewed the transcripts. Discuss with them and set an end date of when they should have deleted all the data related to the project that they have in their possession.
Maintaining research data confidentiality and protecting your research participants is a cornerstone of research ethics. However, it is surprising how often we encounter indifference to information security, either from our clients or companies that refer work to us. That’s why we now always insist on signing non-disclosure agreements. When a client does not already have a confidentiality agreement, we provide a standard non-disclosure agreement that’s available for clients to sign and are always willing to tailor it to our clients needs.
Sample Confidentiality Agreements
Here are some templates of Non-Disclosure Agreements that we use.
- Confidentiality Agreement for Transcription Services
- Sample Confidentiality Agreement for Transcription Services
- Non-Disclosure Agreement for Transcription Services