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Ethical data collection

When identifying data sources to support monitoring and evaluation processes, had you considered the possibility that some of this data may not be available to you?

If you are collecting data from people, on their experiences, personal information, information on their children or loved ones, are you sure they will want to divulge this information? Is it ethical to collect it?

Ethics and ethical data collection

Evaluation is often considered a form of applied research involving information gathering from human participants and is commonly undertaken by development agencies. Evaluation is defined here as the ‘systematic, objective assessment of an ongoing or completed project, programme or policy’. Evaluation is conducted for the purposes of learning and accountability and may be undertaken internally or externally (includes baseline surveys and impact assessments). ACFID guidelines 2015

It might be that there is an obvious source of data for monitoring the effectiveness of your intervention - longitudinal surveys to ask those involved to self-report on their perceptions of sport as a tool for change. However, your intervention is aimed at young children.

Can children give informed consent to participate in the research? Usually the answer is no and the primary caregiver must be consulted first and present during the survey delivery.

This is more than just being broadly aware of the community’s needs or preferences - those involved in your initiative are within your care. Programme delivery monitoring and evaluation is a form of research and so may be subject to local/national research ethics board application for approval, prior to implementation.

Challenging assumptions

Put yourself in the shoes of a participant of your programme and reflect on the data choices. Challenge each data point and ask:

  • Would I be willing to provide this information?
  • Would I be able to give informed consent?
  • Are there any conditions on sharing this data?
  • How much time am I expected to spend on providing information?
  • Could an alternative method be used that provides the same results but requires no direct contribution?

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This article is from the free online course:

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

The International Platform on Sport and Development