How can ethical data use help you?

29 September 2021

Whether it’s HR, research or academic information, data is integral to daily activities and strategic decision making across UQ. However, data can be of a sensitive nature due to commercial, personally identifiable, or other factors, and needs to be handled appropriately. How can we ensure that data is used for its intended purpose and only accessible by those who need it? 

What is data ethics? 

Data ethics is concerned with the moral standards applied, and assessments made, when working with data. It’s balancing ‘what can we do’ with ‘what should we do’. Just because we have the data available or capability to gain insight from the data, does not mean all applications are proper or justifiable. Ethics help us navigate the shades of grey between what is allowable under legislation and policy, and what is considered appropriate for the UQ community. Overlooking ethical considerations may lead to unintended negative consequences for individuals and the University.

How can I improve my ethical handling of data? 

Good data ethics facilitates privacy, transparency and fairness, and ensures that all applicable regulations are followed. 

You can improve your ethical handling of data by considering the following: 

  • Privacy: reasonable effort needs to be made to preserve privacy of information, especially if the data will have a wider audience 
  • Consent: is consent from stakeholders needed? 
  • How is the data being used by others? 
  • Identifying potential harm and bias (e.g., in the data sources, algorithm or outcomes)
  • Balancing benefits for stakeholders

Navigating data ethics can be difficult. UQ has developed the Enterprise Data Ethics Framework (EDEF) to help you make better decisions, and navigate the complex and constantly shifting data security landscape with confidence. To help you apply the EDEF to your work, you can access an interactive Data Ethics assessment tool and handbook.

Where can I find out more?

  • Data Ethics website: The Data at UQ website has a whole section on data ethics. You’ll find the EDEF, handbook, a short video explanation, links to our training sessions, and additional resources. 
  • Staff development training: Staff development sessions on data ethics are delivered regularly via Zoom. 
  • Request an information session for your team: You can request a 1-hour Q&A session via Zoom for your team. Find out more.  
  • Additional support: If you have any questions about the EDEF contact