How can I transparently and ethically use data?

31 January 2022

In 2022, UQ is continuing to improve how it transparently and ethically uses data, considering all stakeholders throughout the University. As a result of this process, storage of information is safer, and can be used more effectively. There are several ethical principles that you should endeavour to uphold throughout this process. How can you use these principles in your everyday work, and what is UQ doing to continue to uphold them?

Foster trust through engagement

It is vital that staff and students understand how their information is being used.

This can be done by clearly communicating how you intend to use the data and any assumptions that may be made, providing any additional context that would assist with understanding (e.g. linked datasets). Consider ways to make this information easily accessible to stakeholders, through simple language and clear formatting such as factsheets, infographics, or a short booklet).

Obtain informed consent

 Informed consent is when stakeholders are aware of where their information is going, how it may be used, and the potential implications. Stakeholders should also be able to update their data when necessary and provide feedback on its use (e.g. specify an organisational level that should be permitted access).  Consent should be ethically maintained by informing subjects of any changes in scope and offering the ability to opt out. This can be done through the appropriate communication channels for the relevant group, including University portals and emails. The Data Strategy and Governance team is improving this process through its Governance of Personal Data Scoping Project, which evaluates how UQ can increase transparency around data collection and use. Through consultation with relevant stakeholder groups across UQ, this project offers recommendations for future action, ensuring legal and ethical obligations are met, and assists in creating a culture of trust throughout the UQ community.

If stakeholders are given agency in the collection and use of information, and a culture of trust develops, data at UQ will be more accurate … and therefore more effective!

How can I find out more?

Learn how to ethically use data by attending the Data Ethics Essentials course, run by Data Strategy and Governance. In this course, you will learn about the importance of considering ethical implications when working with data, using hypothetical scenarios to practice assessing potential issues and mitigating strategies.

Additionally, check out our handy one-pager.