Legal Issues

Large, electronic datasets are vital tool in social science research. They can contain information from a variety of sources such as, healthcare records, criminal justice and juvenile justice records, education records, child welfare records, or judicial records. These datasets do raise concerns around individual privacy and confidentiality issues as they contain sensitive information about individuals, and care must be taken to ensure that all privacy laws are followed.

Best Practice Paper“Legal Issues in the Use of Electronic Data Systems for Social Science Research”

This paper provides an overview of legal issues in using and linking large datasets for social science research. The paper is based on three assumptions. First, linked datasets are essential in conducting services research and policy analyses. Second, it is usually legally possible to collect information and create and link data, though the legal rules for different categories of information may vary. Third, while privacy and confidentiality laws are critical in thinking about these issues, the legal rules governing the security of data are as important.