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Mackey, E. (2019). A Best Practice Approach to Anonymization. In R. Iphofen (Ed.), Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76040-7_14-1


The need for clear guidance on anonymization is becoming increasingly pressing for the research community given the move toward open research data as common practice. Most research funders take the view that publicly funded research data are a public good which should be shared as widely as possible. Thus researchers are commonly required to detail data sharing intentions at the grant application stage. What this means in practice is that researchers need to understand the data they collect and hold and under what circumstances, if at all, they can share data; anonymization is a process critical to this, but it is complex and not well understood. This chapter provides an introduction to the topic of anonymization, defining key terminology and setting out perspectives on the assessment and management of reidentification risk and on the role of anonymization in data protection. Next, the chapter outlines a principled and holistic approach to doing well-thought-out anonymization: the Anonymisation Decision-making Framework (ADF). The framework unifies the technical, legal, ethical, and policy aspects of anonymization.