Maintaining the confidentiality of research subjects is of the utmost importance for ethical reasons, and to ensure the continuing willingness of subjects to particiate in research. Therefore, researchers should balance the conflict that may arise between ethical requirements and other requirements for the retention and deposit of data in a repository or archive for purposes of peer review and expanding knowledge.
It is possible to ethically share confidential data. This can be achieved by protecting privacy through anonymising data that would otherwise identify individual research subjects, aggregating data, controlling access to the data through embargoes or access/licensing terms and conditions, or by gaining the informed consent of research participants that includes consent for data sharing.
For more information on the ethical conduct of research at Washington University, please visit the Research Education and Information page of the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research.