Web-based program to anonymize qualitative data
The MDICP in collaboration with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has developed software to anonymize qualitative data such that these data can be made available on the Data Sharing For Demographic Research website of the ICPSR, which has long been a source of publicly available survey data. Although this effort was motivated by the MDICP’s aim to make its qualitative data available for public access, the software is available for public use through ICPSR.
More about QualAnon
ICPSR has developed a Web based program that streamlines the process of removing or changing identifiers in qualitative data. The program, QualAnon, takes a user-generated name key to replace identified names with pseudonyms. It has several options, including the option to have an annotated document created that identifies where specific changes have been made in the document. The program also creates a summary report that specifies the number of times a specific name has been replaced. In addition, QualAnon has a “batch” option that allows the users to anonymize several documents at once by uploading multiple documents as a Zip file using one corresponding name key.
QualAnon is a tool to assist in the removal of identifiers in qualitative research. It is not intended to replace the researcher’s role in reducing disclosure risk and minimizing breach of respondent confidentiality.
MDICP use of QualAnon
Prior to the public launch of QualAnon, MDICP researchers used a UNIX-based version to anonymize observational field journals and qualitative interviews.
The project was funded by a grant to Susan Watkins from the Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, with support from the NIH/National Institute on Aging, Grant no. P30 AG12836; NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Development Population Research Infrastructure Program R24 HD-044964; and the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Security at the University of Pennsylvania. Russell Hathaway and Peggy Overcashier at ICPSR developed the QualAnon software.